Racy texts to 2 teen boys push former Mt. Pleasant volunteer coach to trial
A former volunteer coach at Mt. Pleasant Area High School blamed an ex-girlfriend for sending explicit texts to a pair of teenage boys and soliciting lewd photos, but all charges against him were held for trial Thursday.
State police charged Ty Cameron Holler, 23, of Latrobe, with two counts each of unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors and hiring or permitting a minor to assist in producing or distributing sexual materials, stemming from text messages he allegedly sent the teens in 2014 and 2015.
At a preliminary hearing Thursday before District Judge Roger Eckels, the victims and an investigator testified that Holler, a volunteer coach for the football team, had started texting the teens, who were 15 and 16 at the time, about sports.
But the conversation turned to sex — the teens' sex lives and Holler's exploits at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He allegedly asked them for details and “proof” of the sex they were having, and sent the teens topless photos of a woman he said wanted to get to know them or have sex with them if they sent explicit pictures in return.
“I just thought it was real weird. ... I gave him a normal picture to send to the girl, that was it,” testified the older of the two, now 18.
Investigating Trooper Joseph Lauricia testified that in two separate interviews with police, Holler told them the texts to the older of the two victims came from his girlfriend of only three days, whom he could identify only as “Alexis” and no longer had any contact information for via phone or social media.
According to Lauricia's testimony, Holler initially said Alexis met with him and the older victim at a bar near IUP, then took Holler's phone while he slept and sent the topless photo and suggestive texts. After officers challenged his story, Holler told them he acted as a go-between for his girlfriend and the teenager, but never asked for photos in return.
Lauricia said he found no evidence the victim, a high school sophomore at the time, had ever visited the bar in Indiana.
Holler told police he got an unsolicited nude photo and a video of the older victim having sex about a week after sending the topless photo, though the victim said he never sent anything other than a fully clothed picture.
The younger victim said Holler asked for a picture of his bodily fluids as proof he had sex.
Defense attorney Michael Ferguson argued there was a loophole in the state's child pornography law that said soliciting depictions of sex acts and body parts was prohibited, but bodily fluids were not.
He compared it to the difference between a photo of urine and one of a man visibly urinating.
Assistant District Attorney Adam Barr countered that the bodily fluids would require a sexual act that was covered under the law.
Ferguson also said the topless photo wasn't illegal because of a state appellate court precedent that held nudity alone was not obscene. He contested the “corruption of minors” charge by arguing that teenagers, especially in a football locker room, talk about sex all the time, and argued that Holler's conversations with them didn't change the teens' views or morals.
Eckels ordered that all charges against Holler be held for the Court of Common Pleas. His formal arraignment is scheduled for June 21.
Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724 836 6660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.