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January 17, 2014

Child rapist draws long prison term

EBENSBURG — A Johnstown-area man charged with 15 counts of rape of a child was sentenced Thursday to a 50- to 100-year prison term.

The sentence handed down by Judge Linda Fleming for Stephen J. Goniea will be in addition to the 30-year sentence he is serving for videotaping the acts and producing child pornography that he made available on the Internet.

“It is my hope that the victims will be able to rise above your monsterous conduct,” Fleming told Goniea via a telephone sentencing.

Goniea, 47, of Crest Avenue, is currently an inmate at Butner Federal Correctional Institution in North Carolina, where he is serving the 30-year sentence handed down by the U.S. District Court in Johnstown four months ago.

The federal sentence was for distributing the images of his molestation of a young girl – acts which often involved juvenile boys – over the Internet.

Thursday’s sentence was for the actual sexual molestations, said Cambria County Assistant District Attorney Tamara Bernstein.

Goniea’s acts for each child victim were horrible and egregious, and they were put out there for everyone to see, Bernstein said.

“They should all be treated like that,” she said. “There is a video in every one of these child’s minds for the rest of their lives.”

Police allege the rapes began in 2005 and continued over a nearly six-year period.

Videos confiscated from Goniea show at times the acts involved just the girl and at other times other juveniles having sex with the girl.

Bernstein asked Fleming to sentence Goniea to 150 to 300 years in prison, reflecting the mandatory sentence should each sentence run consecutively. Instead, Fleming imposed the consecutive sentences for some of the 15 charges and made others concurrent.

Prior to the sentencing, Fleming, using an assessment by the state, found Goniea to be a sexually violent predator.

While initially charged with 90 plus counts, he entered a guilty plea in Cambria County court late last year to 15 counts, Bernstein said.

Indications are that Goniea will likely not live through his 30-year federal sentence.

Cambria County Public Defender Ryan Gleason said Goniea has been diagnosed with lymphoma and has a life expectancy of 10 years.

“He’s made peace with himself, and I hope he makes the best of his life going forward,” Gleason said.

Goniea said that while his sins wear on him every day, he’s made peace with God.

“I can’t change what I did. I can only change what I am from now on, the man that I have become,” he said.

Fleming reminded Goniea that he is able to stay secluded, away from society, while his victims must contend with bullying and misunderstanding by the public.

Along with the prison sentence, Fleming fined Goniea $10,000.

Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County Courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.

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