CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A Pennsylvania man who prosecutors said twice drove to Northeast Ohio to have sex with a 13-year-old Tallmadge girl and take pictures of her faces a 13-year prison term, though a judge said he would making his final sentencing decision in two weeks.
James Cortelyou of Allentown had sex with the girl at a hotel in Kent in 2015, authorities said. He took pictures of her wearing a diaper and infant-style clothing, they said. Another image showed the girl with marks on her back, which were the result of Cortelyou flogging her.
The 37-year-old tried to argue to U.S. District Judge Dan Polster that "everyone's guilty of making mistakes but they shouldn't be defined by them." But his arguments were outweighed by statements from the teen's parents, who said Cortleyou traumatized a bright girl with a promising future.
The mother read a note from the teen, now 15, who said "no amount of therapy can fix me." The girl has been suicidal since the sexual assault, the parents said.
Polster indicated at the beginning of the hearing that he was going to abide by Cortelyou's plea agreement, which called for a sentence of between eight and 10 years in federal prison. He later said hearing the victim's parents speak persuaded him to give Cortelyou a longer prison term, and said he would give Cortelyou a 157-month sentence.
Carlos Warner, Cortelyou's federal public defender, objected, saying judges usually notify attorneys beforehand if he or she is going to give a sentence longer than one spelled out in a plea agreement. As a result, Polster said he would delay issuing his final judgment for two weeks so Cortelyou can make further arguments in support of a lower sentence.
Cortelyou was arrested by the FBI in June. He pleaded guilty in September to receipt and distribution of child pornography, as prosecutors said he sent the photos to the teenager.
A criminal complaint filed last year says Cortelyou wrote an email in response to a Craigslist ad that says "I generally play the Daddy role and have had the privilege of having 3 littles," which prosecutors say is a reference to other victims. He has not been charged with sex crimes against any other children.
Warner argued that Cortelyou's fetish would not be problematic had he acted on it with an adult.
Cortelyou said he was "not a bad guy or a monster" and that he should get a lower sentence because many depend on him.
The victim's parents said he had all but ruined their daughter's life. Her mother said she is haunted by having to see the photos Cortleyou took of their child.
"Will you look at me, James?" the mother said. He did not turn around.
After the parents spoke, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said he was at a loss for words.
"That's understandable," Polster said.
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