WILKES-BARRE — Two days after a federal judge sentenced him to 25 years in federal prison for online sex-related crimes, an ex-Holy Redeemer High School football coach was back in court Friday where learned he’ll spend an additional two to four years in a cell.
Joseph Ostrowski, 29, of Wilkes-Barre, appeared before Luzerne County Judge Michael Vough Friday and pleaded guilty to all three charges he faced related to inappropriate contact he had with a 13-year-old boy at the high school last year. The charges included corruption of minors and indecent assault of a minor.
A plea agreement between Ostrowski’s attorney, Frank Nocito, and Assistant District Attorney Jenny Roberts recommended a concurrent sentence with the federal term he’s serving. But Judge Michael Vough said he would not follow that recommendation.
“You were the head coach, someone he looked up to … you disgraced your family. You disgraced yourself. You disgraced Holy Redeemer High School,” Vough said. “I find your conduct to be reprehensible … worse than your conduct in the federal system you plead guilty to,” Vough told Ostrowski, who stood before him wearing a yellow prison jumpsuit.
Vough told Ostrowski he violated his position of trust.
According to court documents, the boy told police 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 him while the boy was naked.
“I want you to think about that boy for the next 25 years while you’re in federal prison,” Vough told him.
The allegations stemmed from a federal investigation into online “sextortion” incidents Ostrowski was involved in.
Roberts said without the publicity surrounding the federal case, this victim might not have stepped forward.
On Wednesday, Ostrowski, appearing before U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik in Scranton, was sentenced to 25 years in prison and a lifetime of supervision. He is required to register as a sex offender upon release and ordered not to live within 1,000 feet of a place where children under the age of 18 frequent, such as a school, park, day care or arcade.
In that case, Ostrowski agreed to plead guilty to charges of production and attempted production of child pornography, extortion and cyber stalking.
A year ago, he was arrested and charged with posing as a female on the social networking site Facebook to trick a male Wilkes-Barre teenager into emailing nude photos of himself, according to an arrest affidavit. He then used the images to try to extort the teen into sending more photos.
Later, he was charged with additional counts accusing him of engaging in similar conduct from 2006 through May 2012 involving victims from New York, North Carolina, California, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, Minnesota, Indiana, Alabama and Maryland.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis Sempa told the court Ostrowski had victimized or attempted to victimize more than 60 people, used deception to compromise Facebook and other online identities of people, and in some instances took advantage of the trust that athletes placed in him.
During both court appearances Ostrowski said he was sorry and expressed remorse toward the victims and his family. None of Ostrowski’s family members was in court Friday, nor was the victim.
Roberts said she agreed to the plea deal because it meant the victim would not have to testify.
She said the case “was traumatizing” to the boy and because Ostrowski accepted responsibility for his actions, a plea agreement was reached. Had he gone to trial and been found guilty of all three counts, he was facing significantly more time in prison.