A former cheerleading coach serving 15 years in federal prison for taking girls to London to molest them saw his term cut in half yesterday because a judge made a mistake in defining a criminal sex act.
Senior U.S. District Judge Alan Bloch, whose original sentence in 2002 was overturned last year, re-sentenced Scott Hayward, 37, of Coraopolis, to 61/2 years behind bars.
He'll get credit for time served and will be out in about three years instead of in 2015, his original release date.
Hayward cried and pleaded for mercy when Bloch sentenced him the first time, but yesterday he said nothing on the advice of his lawyer, Tom Farrell. Farrell didn't want to talk, either.
Hayward was convicted of taking two teenage girls, 14 and 15 at the time, to London in April 2000 to molest them in a hotel. He was acquitted of similar charges relating to an 18-year-old woman.
The sentence was the statutory maximum he could have received, but on appeal he won a new sentence based on the legal definition of a sex act.
That act involved Hayward pushing the head of the 14-year-old girl toward his crotch, which Bloch ruled was "attempted sexual abuse."
But the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that couldn't be considered a "sexual act" under the statute because Hayward still had his pants on and there was no skin-to-skin contact.
"At the time the 'pushing' occurred, Hayward was trousered," wrote Judge Leonard Garth. "It was not until some time later that Hayward's trousers were removed."
The 3rd Circuit sent the case back to Bloch for a new sentence, but that hearing was delayed by Supreme Court challenges that ultimately made federal sentencing guidelines advisory instead of mandatory.
Using those guidelines, Bloch said the sentencing range was five years three months to 61/2 years. Hayward's lawyer, Farrell, argued for leniency, saying his client was a model prisoner.
Bloch chose the maximum term.
Hayward will be on probation when he gets out and will have to register as a sex offender.
Torsten Ove can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2620.