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City man sentenced for sex abuse

Ditton pleaded guilty in July to abusing child

An Altoona man who pleaded guilty in July to sexual abuse of a 2-year-old girl was sentenced Thursday to a state prison term of five to 10 years.

The sentencing judge, Daniel J. Milliron, said he wanted Anthony J. Ditton, 37, transported as soon as possible to the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, where he will be classified and eventually transferred to another prison to complete his sentence.

The judge speculated that Ditton, 37, would be placed at SCI Waymart, a state prison facility for sexual offenders.

The defendant will be given credit for time already served, which amounts to more than two years.

He will not be eligible for the Department of Corrections Risk Recidivism Reduction Incentive, which enables an inmate to lower his minimum sentence by about 25 percent upon the completion of several courses.

The RRRI program is not available for inmates who commit violent offenses.

Milliron also explained to Ditton that he will be required to register with police as a sex offender for the rest of his life, although the court is still awaiting an evaluation by the Pennsylvania Sexual Offender’s Review Board to determine if Ditton also should be classified as a violent sexual offender, meaning that he is at risk for re-offending.

Ditton’s sentencing hearing was put on hold after his guilty pleas in July because the family of the 2-year-old wanted to address the court, however, family members were unable to attend Thursday’s hearing because the young victim had a doctor’s appointment.

The judge moved forward with the hearing, which was held by telephone video conference.

Ditton spoke from the Blair County Prison, while Assistant District Attorney Derek Elensky and Assistant Public Defender Ed Ferguson spoke from their respective offices.

Judge Milliron commented that initially he planned to reject the five- to 10-year sentence called for in the plea agreement that was presented to him in July, but after discussing the case with the attorneys, he decided that the sentence was appropriate in this instance.

The victim’s family agreed to the sentence, Elensky said.

Ditton, according to the criminal information filed in his case, had no fixed address in Altoona, but on Aug. 17, 2018, he was living with the young girl’s family, and was baby-sitting the child while the parents went shopping.

They returned home about 8 p.m., according to the criminal information, at which point the mother noticed the child was in diapers and was “very upset.”

She was crying and holding her genital area.

The mother also noticed the child was “terrified” of Ditton, yet, as he told the mother, he didn’t know why the child was crying and screaming, although he admitted giving her a bath.

The mother thought this, too, was strange because the child had already been bathed that day.

The mother also noticed that when she attempted to change the child’s diaper, the youngster began screaming and was trying to resist.

Up until that time, the mother told police, the child had not been frightened of Ditton and in fact referred to him as “Big Uncle.”

As the mother continued her questioning of Ditton, he packed up his belongings and left the house.

Eventually Ditton approached police who, he knew, wanted to question him about what occurred to so upset the child.

According to the criminal information, Ditton “told police a series of falsehoods.”

He said he moved out of the parents’ home where he had been living for a year because he was upset, seeing a family “living happily, hiking, fishing and having picnics.”

He said he gave the child a bath that evening because she was suffering from “explosive diarrhea.”

Police indicated they found no evidence of diarrhea on the child’s clothes.

He then said he gave the child a “play bath,” but apparently had rubbed her too hard.

Ditton finally admitted he had sexually abused the child.

He was charged with aggravated indecent assault of a child, indecent assault, corruption of minors, endangering the welfare of a child, and unlawful contact with a minor.

He was sentenced on charges of aggravated indecent assault of a child, and unlawful contact with a minor. The remaining charges were dismissed.

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