HARRISBURG—Attorney General Michelle Henry announced today that a Westmoreland County man has been sentenced to 4 to 8 years in prison for engaging in sexual conversations with a person whom he believed to be a 15-year-old girl, via social media, and arranging to meet up with her.
Mark Garris, 47, was employed as a school bus driver for DMJ Transportation for the Greensburg Salem School District when he committed the crimes.
He was sentenced Thursday in Butler County Court to 4 to 8 years incarceration followed by 8 years of probation. He must register for life pursuant to SORNA, the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act.
In March, a Butler County jury convicted Garris of three felonies: unlawful contact with a minor, attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse of a person less than 16 years age, and criminal use of a communication facility.
“This case serves as a reminder of the ways child predators use social media to gain access to victims. This defendant had every intention of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl,” Attorney General Henry said. “While today’s sentence ensures that this particular defendant will not prey on young people online anytime soon, I encourage parents to educate themselves on the dangers of children using the internet unsupervised and to have ongoing conversations with their kids.”
An investigation by the Office of Attorney General revealed that Garris had sexual conversations and arranged to meet the “child” even after being told they were just 15 years old. At the time, Garris did not know he was actually chatting with an undercover officer, When he drove to the pre-arranged meeting spot, police took him into custody.
This case was prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Angela Raver.
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