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Rose avoids jail for luring

Rich Cholodofsky
| Friday, May 4, 2012, 12:16 a.m.

Former Washington Observer-Reporter sports editor Thomas Rose Wednesday avoided jail for trying to lure a child over the Internet, even as state prosecutors argued that he posed a threat to children.

Rose, 52, of Delmont, was sentenced to serve four years' probation for a misdemeanor conviction of attempting to lure a child, a misdemeanor offense.

A state agent, posing as a 12-year-old named "Jessica," had numerous online chats with Rose for about a week in September 2005. Rose attempted to meet the would-be teen at an area McDonald's restaurant when he was arrested.

During a jury trial in September, Rose testified he thought he was chatting with an adult female.

In court yesterday, Rose pleaded with the judge for probation, instead of a prison term. Rose said he suffered from a sexual addiction and that his crime had already cost him his marriage, house, job and reputation.

"I couldn't tell you when this addiction began," Rose said. "I feel foolish I didn't have the mental strength to recognize this and stop myself."

Rose faced a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment, and prosecutors wanted Westmoreland County Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. to impose a penalty that included jail time.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Anthony Forray said Rose's actions and a previous incident, during which he had contact with a 16-year-old girl he had met over the Internet, indicated that jail time was warranted.

Forray said he was disappointed with the judge's sentence.

"I don't think addiction is a defense for a criminal activity," Forray said. "We believe Mr. Rose is a danger to children of the commonwealth."

In court, McCormick said he imposed a sentence within the standard range of sentencing guidelines, which took into account punishment and rehabilitation requirements.

Rose, who works for a Greensburg attorney, was barred from having any unsupervised contact with children and ordered to not use any computer or other equipment with Internet access for social purposes.

Rose was declared a sex offender under Megan's Law and was ordered to register his address with the state police for 10 years.

Both defense attorneys and prosecutors indicated yesterday that appeals might be forthcoming.

Forray hinted that prosecutors were still unhappy that McCormick had downgraded the charges against Rose from a felony to a misdemeanor during the trial. In addition, McCormick threw out the jury's guilty verdict to a second felony charge of unlawful contact by use of a communications device. The judge said jurors did not follow his instructions that required they acquit Rose on that count if they found him guilty of a lesser charge of attempting to lure a child into having indecent assault.

Defense attorney Robert Brady said Rose intends to appeal the conviction, saying the charged offense was unconstitutional. At trial, Brady argued Rose fell victim to illegal entrapment and was improperly targeted in an adult chat room where sexual fantasies were exchanged.

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