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74-year-old Williamsport man sentenced to home detention for fourth-degree sex offense

August 01, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

A 74-year-old Williamsport man accused of having a preteen girl perform a sexual act on him was sentenced to 90 days on home detention after entering an Alford plea Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court to a charge of contributing to the condition of a minor.

Gerald Lester Shindle of Mount Williams Circle was originally charged with sex abuse of a minor, which carries a 25-year maximum sentence, and a third-degree sex offense, which can result in a 10-year sentence, according to court records.

However, the charges were amended to contributing to the condition of a minor and a fourth-degree sex offense at the beginning of Shindle’s plea agreement before Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr.

An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgment that the prosecution has sufficient evidence to secure a conviction.

The fourth-degree sex offense charge was placed on the inactive docket as part of the plea agreement.

In December the girl was interviewed at the Safe Place Child Advocacy Center in Hagerstown, where she said the incident happened in November, according to the application for statement of charges filed by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Reading from the statement of facts, Assistant State’s Attorney Brett Wilson said Shindle told the girl to "shave his private area," which she did, and then had her perform a sexual act.

“He contends that this thing did not happen,” Shindle’s attorney John Salvatore told the judge.

It was a story that the girl told to friends that eventually came to the attention of adults, Salvatore said.

Shindle also has health problems that would have likely made the allegations impossible, he said.

However, Long said he found the accusations “well-documented” and expressed doubt that “a story made out of whole cloth” would not have been retracted by the girl under questioning.

Salvatore asked Long to consider home detention because of Shindle’s poor health.

Long gave Shindle a three-year state prison sentence and suspended all but the 90 days of home detention. He will also be on supervised probation for two years.

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