WILKES-BARRE – A man who has spent 14 years in prison on charges he sexually assaulted two children faces no additional prison time after he pleaded guilty to six related charges Friday, and he was released from prison.
Gerald Delbridge, 61, formerly of Hazleton, was convicted in May 1999 of aggravated indecent assault and other offenses related to the alleged assault of a 6-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy who were related to him.
In December 2011, the state Superior Court granted a request for a new trial for Delbridge after he alleged his attorney was ineffective for failing to object to faulty jury instructions.
The county District Attorney's Office appealed that decision to the state Supreme Court, which ruled in June it would not hear the appeal.
In a plea agreement Friday that averted a trial, Delbridge pleaded guilty to two counts each of indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors and was sentenced by Senior Judge Joseph Augello to seven to 14 years in state prison.
Having already served 14 years and 35 days in prison, Augello said Delbridge would be immediately released.
"The victims are in agreement with the plea and the agreed upon sentence of time served," Deputy District Attorney Alexis Falvello said. The victims are now adults, prosecutors have said, and live outside of Pennsylvania.
Falvello said a Megan's Law registration does not apply to Delbridge.
According to court papers, police say Delbridge fondled the two children between June 1997 and January 1998.
Delbridge has previously maintained his innocence, arguing the children's testimony was influenced by improper interviewing techniques.
A Luzerne County judge in 2010 granted Delbridge a hearing to determine if the children had been improperly influenced. The state Superior Court later upheld that ruling and granted Delbridge a new trial based on its finding that his then-attorney, Thomas Pavlinic, was ineffective in representing him.
Sheena Delazio, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7235.