Former West Branch School District Assistant Technology Coordinator Michael Narehood, 24, of Karthaus was sentenced to serve three to six years in state prison by Judge Paul Cherry for having relations with a 14-year-old female student.
Narehood pleaded guilty to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, a felony of the first degree; statutory sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault, which are felonies of the second degree.
It was an open plea, meaning the defense and the commonwealth couldn’t agree on a minimum sentence — leaving it up to the trial judge.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, on May 10, 2019 the victim went into Narehood’s office after school was over and Narehood began kissing the victim and engaged in sexual acts with her.
State police interviewed Narehood on May 12 and he admitted to the crimes.
It was an emotionally charged sentencing hearing before a packed courtroom where the victim and the victim’s mother, as well as members of Narehood’s family, spoke on Narehood’s behalf.
In a tearful statement, the victim asked Cherry not to send Narehood back to jail.
“He is my last and best friend,” the victim said.
She said she was abused when she was young and now suffers from panic attacks. As a result of her panic attacks she was frequently bullied by other students at school and the teachers and administration didn’t stop it.
She also said she was suicidal and would harm herself.
The victim said because of Narehood she got involved in the school play and the technology club where she felt she could be herself and be accepted by her peers.
“For the first time in my life I felt safe,” the victim said.
She said the incident isn’t indicative of who Narehood is and blames herself more than him for what happened and begged Cherry not to give him any more jail time.
“I can’t take anymore of this nightmare,” the victim said.
The victim’s mother said when she first heard of the allegations she said she was furious and “livid.” But she reached out to his family and learned about what kind of person Narehood is.
And she said her daughter had a difficult childhood and often would come home from school in tears from the bullying. But after she got involved in the technology club and the drama club she became more confident in herself and was smiling and happy for the first time in years. She said she believes Narehood is a compassionate person and didn’t intend to hurt her daughter.
She said what Narehood did was wrong but asked Cherry to give him leniency.
Narehood’s cousin and aunt also spoke on his behalf. They both said he was always quiet and respectful and has never been in any trouble before. They also said he takes care of his ailing grandmother and took care of his grandfather when he was still alive. He also started his own successful technology company and helps his family members out financially. He also installed video equipment at their church so it could broadcast services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Narehood apologized to the victim, their families and his former colleagues.
“But saying I’m sorry won’t take away all the pain I have caused,” Narehood said.
Narehood’s attorney, Steven Trialonas of State College, said 27 people sent letters in support of Narehood and said Narehood has been in counseling. He submitted a letter from his counselor saying it is unlikely that Narehood would ever reoffend.
Trialonas noted that Narehood would be on Megan’s Law for the rest of his life and would never again work with juveniles in his employment.
Before sentencing Narehood, Cherry said this was an extremely difficult case and was planning to give Narehood significantly more jail time but decided to reduce the sentence after what was said at the hearing.
But he admonished Narehood for his crime and said he failed the victim, her family, his family and his colleagues.
“You weren’t thinking of anyone but yourself that day,” Cherry said.
When Cherry announced the prison sentence, the victim wept uncontrollably in the courtroom.
Narehood was also represented by Helen Stolinas of State College. The commonwealth was represented by Simquita Bridges of the state attorney general’s office.