HOLLIDAYSBURG - An Altoona man who sent sexually explicit pictures to a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl will spend the next year in the Blair County Prison, according to a sentence handed down Tuesday by Judge Timothy M. Sullivan.
While the defendant, Harry S. Forshey, 65, of 516 N. 10th St., was actually communicating through an Internet chat room with a member of the Attorney General's Child Predator Unit and not a young girl, the judge concluded that Forshey thought he was communicating with a child.
He said the courts have the responsibility "to protect children from individuals such as the defendant."
The judge repeatedly said in his opinion that Forshey's act was not a victimless crime.
Forshey, whose wife died several years ago, was sentenced to a jail term of 11 1/2 to 23 months, followed by seven years' probation.
The jail sentenced brought Forshey to tears.
His attorney, Jason Imler, mentioned that Forshey does not have a criminal record, and he said that Forshey admitted his guilt when the city police came to his door last September.
Imler asked for probation on the charges: unlawful contact with a minor and criminal use of a communication facility.
He said Forshey was a Vietnam veteran and also a man with health problems that could be aggravated by a stay in the county prison.
Forshey said he was sorry for what he did and characterized it as an act of stupidity, concluding, "I wasn't thinking about what I did."
The defendant communicated in chat rooms under several names, but when he began his relationship with the agent from the AG's office , he was calling himself, "Master-of-Pleasuree."
He not only sent pictures of himself to the supposed young girl, but he used raw language in his communications.
The first "chat" between Forshey and the AG's agent occurred on July 17, 2012. That was followed by communications on July 18, 20 and 23.
The agent was able to trace the communications through a service provider to Altoona and to the address where Forshey lived alone.
Imler said, "He acknowledges his mistake. He made an error, a poor choice."
The Pennsylvania Sexual Assessment Review Board found that Forshey was not a violent sexual predator under Megan's Law. But he still will be required to register his address with state police for the next 25 years.
Sullivan said he was concerned because Forshey conducted more than 1,000 conversations as well as sending 12 photographs while using the Internet.
"In your head you were dealing with a 14-year-old," Sullivan said.