MAYS LANDING — Former Atlantic City firefighter William Case Jr. was sentenced to eight years in prison Friday for trying to meet up for a tryst with an underage girl he met online.
“Amanda,” 14, actually was a male investigator, but in an April trial Superior Court Judge Max Baker found the Galloway Township man’s intentions to have sexual contact with the girl were real. He convicted Case on 11 of 12 counts, finding no proof that intercourse was expected at the meeting.
Case, then 25, started speaking to Amanda on Aug. 14, 2008, when “she” presented herself as a 14-year-old girl getting ready to enter high school. During the five online conversations they had, “he immediately directed the conversation to that of a sexual nature, and he did that on a number of occasions,” Baker said.
Case, now 29, must serve at least four years in prison before he is eligible for parole, then he must register as a sex offender.
But he’s not one, his family insisted as they spoke on behalf of the man they say gave his all to public service, then lost it because of a mistake brought on by then-undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder.
He already lost his dream job and missed the birth of his daughter last month, the family said. He and his girlfriend, Nicole Thomas, also have a 3-year-old, as well as Thomas’ daughter from a previous relationship.
“I have three little girls (including) a newborn child I’ve only seen through glass,” Case told the judge, crying. “I want a chance to hold my daughter and tell her I love her.”
“He wasn’t thinking that when (Thomas) was pregnant, and he was going online in search of a 14-year-old,” Assistant Prosecutor Janet Gravitz said.
While he was free before trial, Case said he received help from a doctor, who diagnosed him with PTSD.
Baker said Case was well-versed in chatrooms, having admitted to participating in them for 10 years prior to the incident, including one titled “Older for Younger.”
“From the first time he instigated a chat with Amanda, he used the instant messaging method rather than going into the chat room where everyone else could see the conversation,” Baker said.
Baker sentenced Case on 11 counts, with terms ranging from one to eight years, but they were imposed concurrently, meaning he must serve eight years total, with four years of parole ineligibility. He has more than 70 days of jail credit.
Case was found guilty of five counts of second-degree attempted luring, five counts of third-degree attempted endangering the welfare of a child and one count of attempted criminal sexual contact. He was found not guilty of second-degree attempted sexual assault. He has been jailed since his conviction in April, when Baker revoked Case’s bail.
As a Megan’s Law offender, Case will be subjected to lifetime oversight and must have computer-monitoring software installed.
He also must forfeit any position of public employment. He already had been terminated as a firefighter.
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