Smithton man pleads guilty to unlawful contact with minor |

Smithton man pleads guilty to unlawful contact with minor

Renatta Signorini

KITTANNING — A Westmoreland County man will be required to register under Megan’s Law after he admitted Friday to accusations that he sent sexually explicit text messages to a 12-year-old Ford Cliff girl.

Mickey Jay Ashbaugh, 37, of Ashbaugh Lane, Smithton, pleaded guilty Friday to unlawful contact with a minor and unlawful use of a communication facility.

Ashbaugh told Judge James Panchik that he originally thought he was text messaging an old girlfriend’s phone number when it was actually a 12-year-old girl in Ford Cliff.

Assistant district attorney Chase McClister said that during June 2009, the girl began getting texts from who she thought was an 18-year-old female named “Brittany.” McClister said Ashbaugh was posing as the teen. After “Brittany” had asked the girl to meet up for a shopping trip, the girl’s mother became suspicious and called state police.

For about the next two weeks, a trooper posed as the 12-year-old and began texting with Ashbaugh.

“During that time the conversation began to get very explicit,” McClister said, and Ashbaugh requested the girl meet “Brittany’s” boyfriend Mickey for sex.

On July 1, 2009, Ashbaugh had planned to pick up the girl, McClister said. Police “were poised to arrest him” but Ashbaugh never showed, McClister said.

Ashbaugh confirmed to Panchik that his goal was to have sex with the girl. An evaluation was ordered by Panchik to determine if the defendant is a sexually violent predator. Ashbaugh was scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 4.

McClister said the district attorney is recommending a sentence of four months to two years less a day followed by two years probation. House arrest or work release will not be opposed by the district attorney if Ashbaugh is eligible.

The victim’s parents were present in court for the proceedings.

“They have been made aware of this plea,” said victim advocate Pearl Rawson.

According to court documents, while Ashbaugh communicated with a trooper who was posing as the 12-year-old girl, the defendant sent a photograph of himself by text message and suggested sexual contact.

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