man from Altoona challenges the delinquent label | News, Sports, Jobs

HOLLIDAYSBURG – An Altoona man who has completed sex offender treatment opposes the state’s demand that he be identified as a sexually violent predator.

Travis Michael McMaster, 36, has a low risk of reoffending, registered social worker Melissa Hale told Blair County Judge Daniel J. Milliron in a hearing Tuesday.

McMaster remains in contact with Project Point of Light, the agency that provided him with treatment for sex offenders, Hale said.

He also has a relapse prevention program and has found it to be effective, Hale said.

McMaster was arrested in March 2017 based on the results of an eight-month investigation that began in 2016 after Facebook reported that a 14-year-old girl uploaded two photos of herself believed to be child pornography.

The girl told investigators she was sending the photos to Derick Colver who had a profile indicating he was a teenager.

Facebook records linked Covler to McMaster and showed he was in contact with as many as 600 computer users who are believed to be underage women.

McMaster, who pleaded guilty in October 2018 to illegal contact with a minor, was sentenced in October 2019 to 15 days in county jail, followed by 15 days of house arrest, followed by five years of probation. As he was released from prison on bail pending his conviction, McMaster enrolled in the sex offender treatment program.

Based on his conviction, McMaster has been listed on the state’s sex offender website and has been for 25 years. He regularly registered his address and related information with the state police.

McMaster’s request for classification as a sexually violent predator reflects an assessment by the state’s Sex Offender Assessment Board, which must be presented to a county judge for review.

In support of the recommendation, State Deputy Attorney General David Drumheller asked Corrine Scheuneman to explain that the SVP designation reflects a mental health anomaly that was factored into the behavior of McMaster which led to his criminal charges.

On behalf of McMaster, defense attorney Dan Kiss attempted to get Scheuneman to admit that McMaster’s behavior may have reflected his client’s autism and not a mental health abnormality.

Scheuneman disagreed and said McMaster’s autism could have been used in support of the SVP’s recommendation.

Drumheller also asked Hale if his finding that McMaster has a low risk of reoffending reflected an assessment assessment of the SVP, as required by state law. Hale admitted he didn’t.

Milliron, who has the task of deciding whether McMaster should be classified as a sexually violent predator, said he would wait for a transcript of the hearing before ruling.

The judge also asked Drumheller and Kiss to provide him with all recent relevant court decisions, as he had not presided over an SVP hearing for about five years.

Pennsylvania counties suspended SVP hearings in a lengthy appeal process that ended in March 2020 when the state Supreme Court ruled that the state’s way in granting SVP designations was legal.

While this decision made it possible for the SVP to resume hearings, this did not happen immediately as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on court schedules.

Mirror staff editor Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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