Pa. man accused of keeping teen runaway for decade faces sex abuse charges at trial

Sunday, February 11th 2007, 5:43 pm
By: News On 6

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ A decade after Tanya Kach ran away from home at age 14, she went to authorities to report a school security guard 24 years her senior had been secretly keeping her in his bedroom in the house he shared with his parents.

The guard has denied any wrongdoing and said Kach was free to leave anytime. But prosecutors will argue at a trial starting Monday that he manipulated her and that his sexual relationship with her was a crime.

Thomas Hose and his co-defendant, Judith Sokol, a 58-year-old beautician who prosecutors say helped Kach run away from home and change her looks, each pleaded not guilty to a long list of charges of sex abuse and child endangerment.

Hose has contended that Kach was never restrained in his home in McKeesport, a small city several miles east of Pittsburgh. However, the girl's presence in the home was kept a secret from his parents.

Kach went to police with her story last March and has testified Hose threatened to kill her and used psychological tactics to keep her from leaving.

``He had a puppet, I've come to realize,'' she said in one interview last year.

Hose, 49, declined to comment, and his lawyer, Jim Ecker, said he would have nothing to say until Monday. He has been under house arrest since he posted $10,000 bond in March.

Neither prosecutors nor the defense would comment on possible plea negotiations.

The district attorney has contacted Kach, now 25, and ``sought her viewpoint on what justice would be served by in this case,'' an attorney for Kach, Lawrence Fisher, said Friday. He declined to say what Kach would consider a just resolution.

Kach and prosecutors have said that at the time she left home she felt she had no options because her parents had split up and her father had started a relationship with another woman.

Prosecutors allege that Hose took advantage of her vulnerability, even dictating how Kach wore her clothes and hair.

Kach said she lost her virginity to Hose when she was 14 and continued in a sexual relationship into her adulthood. Hose had her record their relations so he could brag to co-workers and friends about his sex life, Kach told police, according to the criminal complaint.

Fisher would not let Kach be interviewed, saying he is trying to protect her privacy.

Fisher said Kach endured more than she revealed in a few media interviews immediately after her reappearance and in court proceedings.

``When people learn what she went through ... they will be astonished at the resilience of Tanya Kach,'' he said. He would not elaborate.

Kach stayed with the hairdresser for several days until Hose could sneak her in when his parents were gone, police said.

Spending most of her days in a bedroom in a tiny two-story frame house, Kach told police she used a bucket as a bathroom, kept bottled water nearby and wore handed-down clothes for most of the 10 years she lived with Hose.

She said it wasn't until 2000 that she was allowed to leave the room, and only when his parents were not home.

Kach said she wavered between wanting to stay and wanting to leave, and at one point even wanted to marry Hose.

``He always said to me 'I'm the only one you need,''' she testified at a preliminary hearing.

During the summer of 2005, she started spending time at a deli a couple of blocks away and struck up a friendship with owner Joe Sparico, who knew her as Nikki Evans.

Kach was chatty with other customers and delivery people. In retrospect, Sparico said, ``she wanted conversation with people. She never had it.''

He said he was stunned when she told him who she was and that her picture would be on a missing children's Web site.

Sparico said he is in regular contact with Kach and says she's doing well.

Fisher said Kach earned her GED in October and is studying business in college. ``Her grades so far are tremendous,'' he said.

She's gotten her driver's license, continues with counseling and is ``not a fan of the attention.''

She has also reunited with her parents.

``Both of her parents provide great care for her,'' Fisher said. ``Whatever their differences, they are united in their efforts to help Tanya with her adjustments and her future.''