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Ex-football coach formally charged

March 22. 2013 12:02AM

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WILKES-BARRE — Luzerne County detectives say they do not know if there are more people who allegedly were molested by ex-Holy Redeemer head football coach Joseph Ostrowski, but they will pursue tips from the public.

One football player came forward with allegations that Ostrowski, 29, performed a lewd sex act on him in the coaches’ locker room at the school sometime in early 2012.

“Our office is asking anyone who has information to please contact the (Luzerne County) district attorney’s office and we’ll follow up on any investigations as needed,” said county Det. Charles Balogh. “We’re still waiting. If there are people out there who have information, they can contact our office.”

Ostrowski temporarily was removed Thursday from the Columbia County Jail — where he is being held on federal “sextortion” charges related to enticing minors and adults to send him pictures and videos of sexual acts on the Internet — to be arraigned by District Judge Martin Kane on child molestation offenses.

Balogh and the state police charged Ostrowski with indecent assault, corruption of minors and photographing a sex act involving a minor. Kane set Ostrowski’s bail at $50,000, and he was taken back to Columbia County Jail.

The arraignment lasted less than two minutes.

Ostrowski, represented by attorneys Frank Nocito and Philip Gelso, waived his right to a preliminary hearing. A formal arraignment is scheduled in county court on April 5.

Ostrowski was arrested by authorities in May when a federal grand jury indicted him on charges he enticed minors and adults in at least 14 states to send him sexually explicit pictures and videos on the Internet. Ostrowski frequently posed as a student, school alumnus and other persons and used Facebook, Skype, email, instant messaging and cellphone texts to commit the crimes, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Scranton.

Ostrowski pleaded guilty in January in federal court to producing and attempting to produce child pornography, interstate extortion and cyberstalking. He is facing 25 years in prison under the terms of the plea agreement. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.

During the federal investigation, a 13-year-old boy came forward claiming he was molested by Ostrowski inside the high school.

“We were notified by the FBI in Scranton about the allegations against Mr. Ostrowski,” Balogh said. “Our office and the state police worked together to file these charges.”

The boy claimed he was lifting weights inside the school when Ostrowski told him to go into the coaches’ locker room to be fitted for a girdle, an undergarment that holds pads under football pants. Once inside, the boy alleged Ostrowski performed a lewd act on him and used a cellphone to take a picture of the naked boy, according to the criminal complaint.

Ostrowski was questioned on Feb. 25 when he allegedly admitted to molesting the boy inside the school. He declined comment as he was escorted to and from magisterial court on Thursday.

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