TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A former New Jersey elementary school teacher who pleaded guilty to recording boys with a hidden camera at a summer camp has been sentenced to 17 years in prison.
State prosecutors said Thomas Guzzi Jr., 40, will be ineligible for parole for a decade as part of his sentence Friday on convictions of official misconduct, manufacturing child pornography and distributing child pornography files.
The Pitman resident had taught fifth-grade at Winslow Elementary School in Vineland and was a stage manager for the Broadway Theatre of Pitman camp. He acknowledged having manufactured child pornography with video of teenage boys taken in restrooms during a 2015 summer camp and also having taken a photo of a boy exposing his genitals.
Prosecutor Rachael Weeks of the state attorney general’s office said the case involved “numerous crimes against more than nine child victims over the period of several years.” One victim was a special needs student, prosecutors said.
“This is not a single period of aberrant behavior,” Weeks said.
NJ.com reports that the mother of one child said in a victim impact statement last month that she sobbed uncontrollably when she saw an image of her son that Guzzi had taken.
“Moments like that change who you are,” she told the court. “I can still see the photo in my mind. When I think about it, my heart hurts.”
Guzzi apologized before sentencing, calling his actions “absolutely inexcusable” and said he deserved no sympathy, adding that he was thankful he had been caught because he can now change.
“Somewhere in my sick, twisted mind, I thought that what I was doing had something to do with love,” Guzzi said. “I now know this to be untrue. … “I know I still need help and I desperately want more help.”
Defense attorney Edward J. Crisonino noted that his client has no prior criminal record and argued that Guzzi didn’t contemplate the harm his actions would cause.
“He recognizes how serious and harmful his conduct was,” Crisonino said.
Information from: NJ.com, http://www.nj.com
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