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Psychologist says Pa. man qualifies as sexual predator

February 22, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Harrisburg, Pa., man convicted of attempting to rape a school teacher qualifies as a sexually violent predator under Pennsylvania's version of Megan's Law, according to a behavioral psychologist.

Douglas Paul Wingert's record of sexual offenses over more than 20 years "stood out the most," Dr. Robert Stein of Lancaster, Pa., testified during the hearing Monday before Franklin County Judge Carol Van Horn.

The designation would require police to notify neighbors of where Wingert lives for the rest of his life, according to state law. Van Horn said she would issue a ruling on the designation later and scheduled Wingert's sentencing for March 9.

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"This statute was written specifically for people like Douglas Paul Wingert," Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Nancy Meyers told Van Horn. "If he is not a sexually violent predator, no one is."

In May 2004, a jury found Wingert, 40, guilty of attempted rape, indecent assault, terroristic threats, unlawful restraint and simple assault. He had been charged by Pennsylvania State Police with assaulting the teacher at a private school in Antrim Township on May 22, 2003.

The woman testified at trial that she was going to her car after school when a truck driver asked for directions and to use the telephone. The woman testified he threatened her with a knife, tried to tie her hands and fondled her before she was able to break free and run away.

During Monday's hearing, Wingert's attorney, Justin McShane, argued that the 2003 crime did not fit the pattern of Wingert's earlier convictions.

Those included, according to the testimony, Wingert's attack on a 17-year-old girl with a knife in 1984, his rape of a 14-year-old girl in 1985, his conviction for indecent assault against a chapel secretary in a state prison in 1986, and his conviction for simple assault and indecent assault involving a 16-year-old girl in Dauphin County in 2002.

Stein, a member of Pennsylvania's Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, said Wingert declined to be interviewed in person for his assessment. He said the evaluation was based on factors including the number of victims, his relationship to the victims, the ages of victims and types of offenses.

The fact that the teacher was a total stranger was a factor in his evaluation, Stein testified. McShane stated that was not part of a pattern in Wingert's behavior because he knew his other victims.

Stein testified it was his recollection that Wingert had met the victim of the 2002 assault on the same day as the offense.

McShane asked if Stein's evaluation showed Wingert's actions "went beyond the means needed to achieve the offense."

"It could be said that placing a knife to the throat of a 14-year-old girl exceeded the means necessary to achieve the offense," Stein replied, referring to the 1985 rape.

After the hearing, Meyers said Wingert has already been sentenced to 1 1/2 to three years for the 2002 assault. Wingert, who served 17 years in state prison before his 2002 parole, faces a maximum of 34 years in prison for his Franklin County conviction, she said.

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