SMETHPORT — A Rixford man received a new, lower sentence for indecent assault allegations after he successfully appealed a sentence he received in September 2018.
William J. Tipton, 53, was sentenced Thursday in McKean County Court before President Judge John Pavlock. He will serve three to six years in state prison for charges of indecent assault and corruption of minors. He must also register as a sex offender for 10 years.
A jury found Tipton guilty of the charges at a 2018 trial. The charges relate to sexual assault of a boy who was about 6 years old.
Prior to sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Ashley Shade, who prosecuted the case, explained to Pavlock that the range for the low end is 12 to 18 months for each charge. She asked for an 18-month minimum for both charges and suggested a total sentence of three to 10 years in prison.
“We believe it’s appropriate, given the defendant’s history,” Shade said.
She noted that Tipton had a previous conviction for similar allegations.
Pavlock explained that the reason Tipton was being resentenced is that the first sentence was imposed using mandatory minimum sentence structure, but the commonwealth couldn’t prove the incident occurred after law regarding mandatory minimum sentences was in place.
The criminal complaint filed at the time Tipton was first charged in 2017 implied that the specific date or dates of the allegations was not known.
The complaint stated that the victim estimated his age to be about 6 at the time of the incident, and it was several years later that the charges were filed.
When Pavlock was talking to Tipton, Tipton told him, “I just don’t understand a few things, that’s all.”
Pavlock asked if he had questions about the sex offender registration requirements, but Tipton indicated he understood them. Pavlock highlighted some of the requirements to ensure Tipton understood.
Registrants are required to provide information such as home and work addresses and vehicle information, and they are required to appear at regular intervals at a registration/verification site to provide updated photographs and information.
When Pavlock was done, Tipton replied, “I understand it, but I understand I don’t really have to do it. It’s my choice.”
Pavlock explained that if Tipton is convicted of not following the requirements, he will return to state prison.
When the judge asked Tipton if he wanted to make a statement before he was sentenced, Tipton paused. “Yeah, Thing I don’t understand is,” he started, then referred to the paperwork in the case and claimed that he had an alibi.
“How can I be sentenced to something that I have proof black and white that I was incarcerated at the time?” Tipton wondered. “You wouldn’t even let the jury hear that fact.”
Pavlock did not respond to the assertion and moved on to the sentencing hearing.
Representing Tipton on the appeal was Ridgway attorney John Thomas.
Tipton’s original sentence was for 25 to 50 years in state prison, and he was to register as a sex offender for his lifetime.
William Tipton’s wife, Julie Tipton, 38, was also charged. She pleaded guilty in November 2019 to a charge of indecent assault of a person less than 13 years of age, and she was sentenced to a term of six months to three years in state prison.