A man from Bobtown was jailed, charged with raping a 14-year-old girl in the woods in October. The girl is reportedly autistic.
Sean Michael Hoffman, age 20, of 254 Duff Street, was charged by state police with sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, corruption of minors, and rape. The child reported the alleged abuse on October 20.
Hoffman had contacted the teen via Snapchat, a social media network, police said. The teen also told them that Hoffman had solicited sex from her more than once. According to the criminal complaint, she told him repeatedly that she did not want to have sex.
The police complaint states that Hoffman threatened to harm the teen's parents if she did not comply the last time he requested sex.
Because she was afraid that her parents would get hurt, the girl agreed to meet Hoffman at the post office in Bobtown on August 6. Police say he took her into the woods a little way and allegedly raped her.
Hoffman was interviewed by police at the Greene County jail, where he was already being held on unrelated charges. Police report that at first, Hoffman denied knowing the victim. Later, he allegedly told them that he did have sex with her and thought she was 18 years old. Police say he told them that he and the girl used Snapchat to send each other nude pictures and videos. He says he stopped communicating with her when she told him how old she was.
Hoffman is being held without bail on the new charges, after being arraigned before District Judge Lee Watson Saturday evening. He will stand before Watson at a preliminary hearing at 10:30 AM on December 11.
Mr. Hoffman has put himself in a difficult situation. Thankfully for him, his alleged victim is over the age of 13. If she had been younger, he could have faced rape of a child charges and been looking at 40 years in prison. However, the statutory sexual assault charges, which are a second-degree felony, can still net him 20 years, which is a significant period of time. The fact that Hoffman thought the teen was 18 is not an acceptable defense, either. He’ll need a skilled Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney to help him with this one.
Hoffman’s life will be forever changed, especially if he’s convicted. He’ll have to register as a sex offender, for one thing, and that’s something all his neighbors will be able to discover. No matter where he moves, at least in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, he’ll have to register. Even potential employers and colleges can look, and he can be denied jobs, apartments, and educational opportunities.
As far as criminal penalties, Hoffman allegedly threatened the girl to get her to have sex with him. He’s facing first-degree felony charges, and those mean up to 20 years in jail, if convicted. That’s a long time – he’d be twice as old as he is now when he got out if he had to serve the entire sentence.
Hoffman’s attorney has defenses available to help the man. He’ll want to look at the girl and her testimony first off. How reliable is her testimony? Did she really tell him she didn’t want to have sex, or was it consensual and she regretted it after the fact? Did the two of them have an argument at some point, and the charges are her way of getting revenge? What forensic evidence is there, and how was it handled?
Even just being charged with what he has been will alter his life. Beyond just the court hearings, it hit the newspaper. People read newspapers, and people make judgments, good or bad, about what and who they see on those pages. Hoffman could find that his friends and family distance themselves from him because they don’t want to be painted with the same brush. It’s sad but true.