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Washington Twp. man again pleads guilty to 5 years of sex assault

| Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

A Washington Township man will be under court supervision for three decades after pleading guilty Monday to sexually assaulting a girl for five years.

Westmoreland County Judge Rita Hathaway said Paul Frank Katonka dodged a “much lengthier” sentence that would have been meted out had a jury convicted him of the crimes.

“This court would be sentencing him to a period far greater than this,” Hathaway said.

Katonka, 35, was sentenced Monday to serve eight to 16 years in a state prison followed by 19 years of probation.

It was the second time he pleaded guilty and was sentenced in the case.

Judge Debra A. Pezze accepted a plea agreement in September 2008 and sentenced him to 10 to 20 years of imprisonment and 15 years probation.

Pezze later rejected Katonka's bid to withdraw the plea.

State Superior Court overturned the ruling and Pezze permitted Katonka to withdraw the plea after a December 2011 evidentiary hearing.

Katonka has had several attorneys following his arrest on Feb. 29, 2008, for sexually abusing the girl while she was as young as 8.

The victim, now 18, previously said she would testify against the defendant but later recanted her story, Assistant District Attorney Judy Petrush said.

“I do know that everyone wants to have this resolved,” Petrush said.

Katonka, represented by court-appointed attorney Jim Silvis, asked Hathaway for time to hire a private attorney, but she refused.

“I'm not going to grant that since this has gone on long enough,” Hathaway said.

The judge said he could either accept the plea deal offered by prosecutors or go to trial next week.

Katonka pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted rape, three counts each of aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault, six counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and single counts of endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors.

“I've been married for 15 years, I have five ... children who I do really miss and love,” Katonka said. “I'm just trying to get back to my family.”

He was ordered to not have contact with the victim or any minor child, except supervised visits with his own children. An evaluation will be held to see if he should be classified as a sexually violent predator.

Pezze previously determined Katonka to be a sexually violent predator, but he requested another evaluation because he didn't participate in the first.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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