Ex-Penn State student gets jail time for campus crimes

A former Penn State student was sentenced to 9 to 23 months in Centre County Correctional Facility Monday afternoon.

Zhongyuan Shao, 19, a Chinese national, pleaded guilty in March to burglary, criminal trespass and indecent assault charges stemming from a string of incidents last fall. Penn State police received reports from several women that a man later identified as Shao entered or attempted to enter their rooms while they slept during the early morning hours of Oct. 11 and 12, according to court documents.

Two students living in the dorms and a juvenile on campus visiting her sister all reported that they awoke to Shao touching them inappropriately, police said.

One of the women told police that Shao, who was a Penn State student at the time, also walked into her room uninvited in September and left when she questioned him, police said.

No plea agreement was crafted between the District Attorney’s Office and Shao’s attorney, Lance Marshall, so there was no indication as to the sentence that Clinton County Senior Judge J. Michael Williamson would impose Monday.

Marshall asked for a time-served sentence. Shao spent 60 days in the county jail after his arrest before he was released when his family posted the $50,000 bail. Shao’s student visa expires on May 27, and then he would return to China, probably never to return, Marshall said. He also described the incident as “isolated” and described Shao as a respectful young man that came to the U.S. to study, but acted while under the influence of alcohol.

“One of the things about young people and alcohol is that they are learning about alcohol and the effect it has,” Marshall said.

Shao himself spoke to Williamson, apologized, and said he planned to never return to the U.S. when he leaves the country.

Assistant District Attorney Lisa Epperly-Galanis pushed for jail time and also disagreed with the isolated incident description. She pointed to a remark Williamson made about the offenses occurring on separate days.

“As the court so succinctly observed, this is more than one incident,” Epperly-Galanis said.

Shao was found not to be a sexually violent predator, but was ruled by Williamson to be a tier-3 sex offender and subject to lifetime registration in Pennsylvania under Megan’s Law. He was also sentenced to probation. Williamson closed by reminding Shao, who will return to China as soon as his sentence is finished, that if he ever returned to the U.S., he’d have to comply with both.