Babysitter sentenced in child sexual assault case

RIDGWAY - A babysitter convicted of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in his care was sentenced in Elk County Court Monday to no less than 10 years and no more than 20 years in a state penitentiary. Corey Allen Heatherdale, 26, of Ridgway, was convicted by a jury in a one-day trial on July 20, 2012, in the Elk County Courthouse. In her testimony, the victim, now 18 years old, testified that at the time the abuse began, she resided on with her father, who knew Heatherdale from the Ridgway Fire Department. The victim testified that her father began a new second shift schedule at a local factory in 2007 and asked Heatherdale to watch her while he was at work. The victim testified that she successfully rejected Heatherdale's initial attempt at sexual contact, but that a few weeks later Heatherdale forced her to perform oral sex on him and that he subsequently forced intercourse on at least five separate occasions. The victim said she did not tell her father or any adults as she feared what the repercussions might be, and described her father's home as an environment of mental, physical, and emotional abuse. But she said she did confide in classmates at Ridgway Area Middle School, which is how the accusations came to the attention of Officer Bridgette Asti of the Ridgway Borough Police, who was serving as a School Resource Officer for Ridgway schools at the time. In her testimony during the trial, Asti said she arranged an interview with Heatherdale first, as she wanted to speak with the adult being accused. Heatherdale was first interviewed by police in 2007, at which point he denied any sexual contact with the victim. In December 2009, Heatherdale twice returned to the police station, where he was interviewed by Cpl. Jeff Lee of Punxsutawney State Police.