June 26, 2007 — -- A former middle school security guard pleaded guilty today to holding a student captive in his house for 10 years and forcing her to have sex with him.
Thomas Hose, 49, was sentenced to a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, but he could get out after only five years, his attorney told ABC News.
He pleaded guilty today to statutory sexual assault, three counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, two counts of indecent assault and one count each of endangering the welfare of children, corruption of a minor, interference with custody of children and aggravated indecent assault. Hose was never charged with kidnapping.
Hose's attorney, Jim Ecker, said he is pleased with the outcome for his mentally ill client. The judge left the opportunity for Hose to receive mental health treatment in prison, he said.
"He has suicidal tendencies, and he's at high risk for that," Ecker said.
Hose was charged with several sex crimes related to the disappearance and alleged abuse of Tanya Kach, a runaway who was 14 when she vanished Feb. 10, 1996.
The trial was originally set to begin in February of this year, but Hose tried to kill himself the day before it began. It was delayed again in May because Hose was being treated at a mental hospital.
Kach was believed to be missing for 10 years, but she never left her hometown of McKeesport, Pa. Instead, she later told police, she was hidden on the second floor of the house Hose shared with his parents -- only a few miles from her father's house.
Now 25, Kach last year told a local deli owner that she was being held captive by Hose.
After she was found, she told police that she met Hose when she was an eighth-grader at Cornell Intermediate School, where Hose worked as security guard.
Prosecutors say Hose enticed Kach to run away from home and then held her against her will in a second-floor room of the house he shared with his parents, where she was forced to use a bucket as a toilet and to keep a journal of her sexual encounters with Hose.
Hose decided about a month ago to enter a guilty plea at trial, according to Ecker.
Ecker said Judith Sokol, 58, a hairdresser who prosecutors say changed Kach's appearance so she wouldn't be noticed, also pleaded guilty to charges of statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault and corruption of a minor. Prosecutors say she allowed Kach and Hose to have sex in her house.
Joe Sparico, the owner of JJ's Deli Mart and the person in whom Kach confided after she had been visiting the deli for months during the time Hose let her out of the house, told ABC News he is happy Kach will not have to endure the stress of a trial.
"I feel completely ecstatic," he said. "I'm just so happy for her that his is all over."
Sparico and Kach have remained close ever since the day she confided in him, and he has said that Kach is like a daughter to him.
Sparico said he wished Hose, who Ecker said could get credit for time already spent in jail, had been sentenced to a longer mandatory sentence.
"The length of time that the girl spent there, you know, really and truthfully, I think he should have gotten a lot more time than that," Sparico said.
He said he did not think it was fair for Hose to spend less time in jail than Kach spent in captivity.
"When it's time for him to come up for parole, I'm sure Tanya's going to be there at every hearing," Sparico said. "I don't think the time that he got was right for what he did. He ruined a girl's life."
Although Kach said she was eventually allowed out and not physically held in the house, former FBI criminal profiler Candice DeLong told ABC News that Hose's manipulation could still remain a powerful restraint, making Kach a victim and not a willing participant.
"They're brainwashed into believing they can't [escape], or if they do they will be killed or someone they love will be killed," DeLong said of victims who remain with their captors when escape is physically possible. "They say all kinds of things to trick and fool the victim into believing they have no choice and the best thing is to stay."
Indeed, Kach, whose first encounter with Hose included kissing him under a stairwell at her school while she was cutting class, has said Hose told her that no one loved her, no one else would care for her and no one was looking for her.
She told police that she and Hose had sex during the 10 years she was held captive, and that Hose forced her to keep a sex journal so he could brag to his friends about the nature and regularity of their encounters.
She said she ate only the food Hose brought her -- mostly peanut butter and jelly sandwiches -- and that she used a bucket as a toilet.
In order to remain unnoticed by Hose's parents and other guests in the house, Kach said she had to memorize and avoid the floorboards in the room that squeaked, watch television only with a headset on and occasionally hide in the closet. She said she was only allowed out of the room twice a week for showers after Hose's parents had gone to sleep.
Hose eventually allowed Kach to leave the house and interact with other people, but she was to introduce herself as his girlfriend, Nikki Allen. She went to church and to the nearby deli, where in March 2006 she confided in Sparico.
DeLong said people like Kach who are victims of manipulation need help.
"The fact that she eventually said something to this deli owner, to me that kind of puts the cherry on the cake," she said. "If you were free to go, and you always were, why would now go up to a stranger, and say, 'I'm being held captive.' In her mind, she was still chained and captive, and that's what she had to break through."
When Kach approached him with her story, Sparico said he wasn't sure it was true. So he turned to his son, a former McKeesport police officer, for help.
"He says, 'Hey, Dad, don't tell me her last name's Kach,'" Sparico said. "He turned white as a ghost. He couldn't believe it. They really thought this girl was dead."
Lawrence Fisher, Kach's lawyer in a civil case against Hose and the city of McKeesport, told ABC News that Kach is now trying to move on with her life. She has gotten her driver's license, her GED and is now taking college classes, he said.
"She's being cared for by her family, and she's catching up on all she's missed in life for 10 years," he said.
Sparico also said Kach had plans for her future
"She'd like to be an entrepreneur," he said. "A lot of people would be bitter and whatnot, but she's just a very pleasant girl. She's very nice, very helpful."
Fisher said Kach now hopes to lead a relatively normal life.
"I think that if she could have some autonomy, that would be a favorable outcome," he said.
Although her parents are divorced, Sparico said one of Kach's priorities is spending time with both of them.
"This girl, all she wants is her mother and her father," he said. "Just her family, that's it."