A former teacher and high school basketball coach in Pennsylvania has pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual exploitation of children.
Gregory Mancini, 32, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter in the Western District of Pennsylvania on Friday, according to a Department of Justice press release.
He is charged with crossing state lines with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and one charge each of receipt and possession of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor.
The guilty plea is not part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors, an attorney for Mancini told local news website GoErie.
Mancini admitted to traveling to Georgia from Erie on Nov. 2, 2018, “for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor,” the Justice Department press release says.
The press release says that Mancini had been targeting his victim for months:
The investigation uncovered that Mancini had groomed the victim for months, discussing his intention to engage in sex acts with the minor. He told the victim to keep quiet about their contact and that he loved the victim who was thirteen years of age at the time. After Mancini told the victim that he was coming to visit him on November 2, 2018, the victim became upset and ultimately the Hall County Sheriff’s Office was contacted. They then assumed the victim’s identity online and Mancini began communicating with an undercover detective whom he thought was the victim. During his communication with the undercover detective, Mancini, thinking he was communicating with the minor victim, stated ‘i want u, I love u.’ Shortly before his arrest, Mancini again thinking he was communicating with the minor victim, texted ‘I want to hug u … kiss u … love u.’
He was taken into custody upon arriving in Georgia, the DOJ said. He admitted in an interview with authorities that “he had engaged in sexual talk with the minor victim and that he had crossed the line. Mancini also admitted that he was a criminal,” the press release said.
Federal authorities in Georgia transferred the case to Erie for further investigation, the DOJ press release said. That investigation ultimately revealed that Mancini was “using the dark web to obtain child sexual abuse material.”
A search warrant executed at Mancini’s home in Erie on Jan. 9, 2020, resulted in the seizure of two computers and a thumb drive belonging to Mancini, the DOJ said.
“A forensic examination of those items revealed hundreds of items of child sexual abuse material depicting children as young as two being raped and abused by adults,” the press release said. “Also uncovered was a journal Mancini had written wherein he admitted that he was attracted to younger boys.”
GoErie reported that Mancini had worked as a teacher at Barber National Institute. He was also an assistant junior varsity basketball coach at Cathedral Prep, a private Catholic high school.
Mancini faces up to 70 years in prison and a potential fine up to $750,000. His sentencing has been scheduled for May 6.
[Image via WFXP.]
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