Limerick man awaits sentencing on child porn charges
NORRISTOWN >> A Limerick man is awaiting his fate from a judge and faces a psychosexual evaluation after he admitted to disseminating child pornography on his home computer equipment.
John Paul Roetling, 39, of the first block of Lightcap Road, pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Court to two felony counts of sexual abuse of children disseminating child pornography in connection with incidents that occurred between December 2016 and February 2017. Judge Risa Vetri Ferman deferred sentencing so that court officials can complete a background investigation report about Roetling, including drug, alcohol, mental health and psychosexual evaluations.
Roetling, who remains free on bail pending sentencing, faces a possible maximum sentence of seven to 14 years in prison on the charges. However, state sentencing guidelines could allow for a lesser sentence.
Roetling also faces an evaluation by the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, which will determine if he meets criteria to be classified as a sexually violent predator. Those classified as predators face more stringent restrictions while on parole or probation, including mandatory counseling and community notification about their living arrangements.
Regardless of the state board’s findings, Roetling will face a mandatory requirement to report his address to state police for 25 years.
An investigation of Roetling began on Dec. 6, 2016, when a detective conducting online Internet investigations to identify those possessing and sharing child pornography located a computer, later linked to Roetling, which was sharing files of child pornography via a file sharing network.
A detective was able to make a direct connection to the computer and initiated a download of materials from the suspect computer, according to the criminal complaint filed by Abington Detective Rick Beaghley, who is a special county detective assigned to investigate Internet crimes against children.
Between Dec. 6, 2016, and Jan. 17, 2017, detectives downloaded 11 video files that depicted female children under the age of 18 engaged in sexual acts or poses. Some of the children were as young as 7, court documents indicate. Investigators also uncovered 283 image files of multiple girls, ages 7 to 15, in various stages of nudity or engaged in sexual acts or poses, according to the criminal complaint.
Investigators obtained a warrant to conduct a search of Roetling’s home on Feb. 23, 2017. When detectives asked Roetling if he knew any reason why they would be at his residence he allegedly replied, “Yes, because I have been downloading things that I should not be,” according to the arrest affidavit.
“John further stated that he has been downloading child pornography for about the last four to five years,” Beaghley alleged, adding Roetling admitted to installing file sharing software on his computer which was capable of downloading child pornography, sharing files and “pirating some.”
“He admitted that he masturbated to the child pornography files and that he was the person responsible for the files I had downloaded from his residence. Roetling stated that he tried to delete all of his child pornography files as he did not want to be a ‘monster’ and was ashamed of himself,” Beaghley alleged.
Authorities seized computer equipment from Roetling’s bedroom and a forensic examination uncovered “numerous” images of child erotica, according to the criminal complaint.