Williamsport, Pa. – A 42-year-old Montoursville man was found guilty today of dozens of felony counts stemming from the repeated rape of a child.
Lycoming County Judge Marc F. Lovecchio handed down dozens of guilty verdicts to Matthew A. Sauter:
- Six felony counts of rape of a child
- 12 felony counts of statutory sexual assault
- 12 felony counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
- 18 felony counts of aggravated indecent assault
- 12 felony counts of corruption of minors
- Six felony counts of indecent assault
Sauter had oral, vaginal, and anal sex with a child numerous times over an 18-month period.
"In order for a person Mr. Sauter's age to carry on a sexual relationship with a 13 year old, all of these conditions must be satisfied," First Assistant District Attorney Martin Wade said.
Wade described the following six conditions:
- A legitimate reason for spending time with her
- Privacy for the acts to occur
- He can’t hurt her badly enough to leave marks someone can discover
- He must be physically attracted to her to have the desire to take such a risk
- Some type of in or opening.
Sauter met all six conditions, Wade successfully argued to the judge.
"Some of the information [Sauter] introduced to this case paints a picture of a private and secure environment where sexual abuse could certainly thrive," Wade said.
Sauter's attorney George E. Lepley Jr. argued that there was no corroborating evidence to support the child's accusation – including no evidence of physical trauma on her sexual assault exam.
But according to expert testimony, most sexual abuse victims don't show signs of physical trauma.
"More than 90% of girls with substantial sexual abuse will have a normal or nonspecific exam," Child Abuse Pediatrics Specialist Dr. Pat Bruno testified. "A fissure is like a paper cut, it heals at a rate of approximately 1 millimeter per day, so three to four days."
Weeks passed between the last sexual episode and the child's sexual assault examination.
Lepley pointed out that the child had a history of mental health issues, including "telling stories" and being admitted to The Meadows.
"I’d submit that the lack of any corroborating evidence, the Meadows admission, references to mental health history, maybe she believes that it actually happened but with all of that I’d submit that the Court has to have reasonable doubts," Lepley said before Lovecchio rendered his verdict.
"You determine credibility for a living," Martin said to the Lovecchio. "Your Honor has to make a credibility determination."
As evidenced by the verdict, Lovecchio indeed found the child to be credible.
In addition to the 66 felonies listed above, Sauter also was convicted of 12 counts of misdemeanor indecent assault.
His bail was revoked and Sauter was ordered to undergo an assessment by the Pa. Sexual Offender's Assessment Board to determine if he is a sexually violent predator.
Sauter's sentencing is scheduled for March 3, 2021.