A Johnstown man was ordered to serve what is in essence the rest of his life in prison on Thursday in Cambria County court.
Albert Baldish Sr., 51, who has unspecified health problems, will spend 35 to 70 years in a state prison for sexually molesting a girl from the time she was 6 until she was about 16. He was convicted Aug. 13 of 51 counts of sex-related crimes for incidents beginning in 1989 and ending in 1999.
Baldish, a former Cambria County Transit Authority driver and school bus driver, maintained his innocence throughout his August jury trial and again Thursday at his sentencing.
“I never once touched a child,” he told the court.
But Cambria County President Judge Timothy Creany said he wasn’t buying the claim.
“I sat in the trial, I heard all of the testimony, and I concluded that the jury verdict was well supported by the testimony,” Creany said. “I concluded, as did the jury, that you committed each of the acts alleged.”
Many of the charges carry state-mandated sentences, and in most cases Creany ordered that the penalties be served consecutively.
The victim told the judge that the abuse has given her a lifetime sentence of mental issues including a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
“I shouldn’t have had to go through this,” she said, fighting back tears.
Now 29, she is married with children and lives in the western part of the state.
The abuse and the forced lying that went along with it impacts even now on her relationship with her husband, the woman said.
Trial testimony and information repeated at the sentencing hearing Thursday was that the abuse began when the girl was 6 with inappropriate touching, a way to groom her for more advanced sex.
The girl said Baldish began having intercourse with her on her ninth birthday.
The abuse continued for a number of years until he no longer had access to the girl, according to testimony.
As an adult attempting to get on with her life, she went to authorities about four years ago and charges were filed in 2012.
An evaluation by a psychologist with the state’s Sexual Offender Assessment Board concluded that Baldish has a mental abnormality serving as a marker that he likely would abuse again.
William G. Allenbaugh II testified Thursday that his conversation with Baldish and review of records lead
him to believe that the defendant is a paraphiliac with an attraction to children.
“The thing that stands out for me is the ‘grooming’ behavior,” Allenbaugh told the court. “He began with touching. He could not stop himself; he stopped only when he no longer had access to the girl.”
Cambria County Public Defender Ryan Gleason said he had difficulty with the way Allenbaugh reached his conclusion, expecially because he did not review the transcript from the August trial. Rather, he reviewed the transcript from Baldish’s preliminary hearing and the police report.
Gleason pointed out that there are a number of inconsistencies between those two documents and testimony at trial.
“There were inconsistencies. Some things were different at trial,” Gleason said.
Creany accepted Allenbaugh’s conclusion and found Baldish to be a sexually violent predator. That designation requires him to register with authorities for life after he is released from prison.
Cambria County Assistant District Attorney Beth Bolton Penna said she hopes the Megan’s law registration requirement is not needed.
“We’re very pleased with the sentence,” she said. “The individual is 51 years old, and by the time he reaches his minimum sentence, he will be 86.”
Baldish, who has been housed in the Cambria County Prison since his conviction, was returned there to await transfer into the state system.
Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County Courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellottd.