Ex-guard sentenced in 10-year abduction

Thomas J. Hose admits he seduced a 14-year-old schoolgirl and held her hostage in his McKeesport home for 10 years

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VWH Campbell, Post-Gazette photos
Geraldine Massey, right, of the Center for Victims of Violent Crime, leads Tanya Kach from Judge Zottola's court after yesterday's proceedings.
By Gabrielle Banks and Jim McKinnon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A former school security guard admitted yesterday that he seduced a 14-year-old student and kept her hidden for a decade, but he showed scant remorse at his sentencing.

Above: Thomas J. Hose enters the court, where the judge sentenced him to five to 15 years in jail.
Below: Judith Sokol pleaded no contest to reduced charges for her role in helping to conceal Ms. Kach.

Click photos for larger image.

More coverage
Read the full text of Tanya Kach's victim impact statement
Listen in
Excerpts of audio comments:
Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka on Judith Sokol's plea
Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka on Thomas Hose's plea
Statement by Tanya Kach's father, Jerry Kach
Additional comments by Mr. Kach
Comments by attorney Lawrence Fisher, who is representing Ms. Kach in a civil case against Mr. Hose

Thomas J. Hose, 49, interrupted the victim as she read an impact statement and said in his own statement that he thought the girl's captivity had prevented her from ending up "dead or on the streets."

Common Pleas Judge John A. Zottola told Mr. Hose he was partly inclined to reject the McKeesport man's plea agreement because of his lack of understanding and remorse. But the judge ultimately accepted his guilty pleas on all the charges and sentenced him to five to 15 years on a single count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

Defense lawyer James M. Ecker said he was "very happy with the results" because his client faced over 100 years in prison had he been sentenced to the statutory maximums for three counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, one count of aggravated indecent assault, statutory sexual assault, interfering with the custody of a child, corruption of a minor and child endangerment.

Co-defendant Judith C. Sokol, 58, a McKeesport hairdresser accused of coloring and styling the girl's hair to conceal her identity and allowing illegal sex acts between Mr. Hose and the girl to occur in her home, plea bargained for reduced charges. The prosecutor withdrew five charges and she pleaded no contest to aiding and abetting in statutory sexual assault, interference with the custody of a child, corruption of a minor and child endangerment. She remained free on bond and will be sentenced Sept. 24 by Judge Zottola.

Ms. Sokol's lawyer, Angela Carsia, said the deal was in her client's best interest because the case has "certainly taken a toll, emotionally and physically" on her.

The reappearance of Tanya Nicole Kach in March 2006 made national headlines. She was an eighth-grader at Cornell Intermediate School when she was reported missing in February 1996. At 24, a woman who'd been calling herself "Nickie" confided in a couple who ran JJ's Deli Mart on Versailles Street that her real name was Tanya Kach and she had been living under lock-and-key with an older man and his parents since she was a minor.

The store owners called the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and an Allegheny County sheriff's deputy who had been investigating the cold case for years.

After a year of public scrutiny for enduring semi-captivity into her adulthood, Ms. Kach finally had an opportunity yesterday to address her captor.

Prior to sentencing, Ms. Kach tearfully read an impact statement directed at him.

"You took away my innocence, my childhood. You made me think my family didn't want me or love me, that no one cared or loved me but you," said Ms. Kach, now 25. "For 10 years you controlled me ..."

Mr. Hose, who was standing several feet away in handcuffs and shackles broke in, muttering "I'm sorry."

She silenced him, adding, "Don't you apologize to me."

She went on to say she was no longer "a puppet" or "stupid" and had obtained her GED and successfully completed her first semester of college.

"I plan to go places," she said, but "the main thing I want to do is help protect children and women from men like you."

The defendant had the last word. Without looking at the young woman he said, "I'd like to say I'm sorry. I want Tanya to know how sorry I am." But he ended by recalling a moment when he said Ms. Kach told him, "Thank you. If it wasn't for you I'd be dead or on the streets."

The judge said he considered rejecting Mr. Hose's plea agreement, but recognized a trial would be painful for the victim.

"I think you give yourself too much credit. You see yourself as different than the rest of the world sees you," the judge said. He then sentenced Mr. Hose to five to 15 years in prison and prohibited him from contacting Ms. Kach or her family.

Deputy District Attorney Laura A. Ditka focused the case against Mr. Hose and Ms. Sokol on offenses against Ms. Kach from Jan. 28, 1996, to Oct. 13, 1997, while the victim was younger than 16.

Ms. Ditka called Mr. Hose's sentence fair. "He'll have a lengthy time in prison and a lengthy time on parole."

She said the plea deal for Ms. Sokol was a good outcome because it prevented the victim "from reliving what she's had to go through in a very public way."

But, to the chagrin of his daughter, Ms. Kach's father, Jerry Kach, called a news conference at his Elizabeth Borough home. He told reporters he was "pleased" with the outcome of the case, though he believes Ms. Sokol and Mr. Hose should be executed.

"Justice has been duly served against the monsters who took my daughter away from me 11 years ago," said Mr. Kach, 46. "I will now sleep a little better knowing they'll get what they deserve."

He said about three years after his daughter, his only child, disappeared, he saw Mr. Hose at an event at Cornell Intermediate School.

He said he asked Mr. Hose if he'd heard any news about his daughter from her school friends and Mr. Hose responded that he had not.

"He denied knowing anything, knowing at the time that Tanya was living with him," Mr. Kach said.

Before his child disappeared, Mr. Kach said she had mentioned "Tom" in conversation, but he made nothing of it during her protracted absence. He said he was proud that his "shy little girl" had become "an assertive adult" since she came back into his life as an adult.

He said he was happy that she is overcoming some of the emotional harm done during her stay with Mr. Hose. She is pursuing a degree in business management and has obtained a driver's license, he said.

Ms. Kach has chosen to live with friends rather than with either of her parents, who are separated and divorcing.

Mr. Hose's lawyer asked the judge to place him in a mental health unit and order addiction treatment during his incarceration because doctors consider him a "chronic risk for suicide."

He still faces a federal civil rights lawsuit Ms. Kach filed against him, his elderly parents, who lived in the home during her captivity, Ms. Sokol, the city of McKeesport, the school district, the school security company and several police officers and school officials.

Jerry Kach, Tanya Kach's father, holds a news conference at his home after yesterday's sentencing. "Justice has been duly served against the monsters who took my daughter away from me 11 years ago," he said.
Click photo for larger image.

Gabrielle Banks can be reached at gbanks@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1370. Jim McKinnon can be reached at jmckinnon@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1939.


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