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Seminole man sentenced to 20 years in prison for sex offenses

TAMPA — The first time Edward Oberwise drove from Pinellas County to Lithia to meet up with a 12-year-old girl he met on MySpace, the then-37-year-old man performed oral sex on her and her 14-year-old friend in a grocery store parking lot. He also allowed the 12-year-old to perform oral sex on him.

When Oberwise showed up for a second encounter in January 2008, he wore a T-shirt that read "Real Men of Genius."

But this time, unbeknownst to him, the 12-year-old girl had been replaced by a detective dressed up to look like her.

Oberwise landed behind bars, charged with five counts of lewd and lascivious battery stemming from the initial encounter.

On Wednesday, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Wayne Timmerman sentenced the Seminole man to 20 years in prison and 10 years of sex offender probation.

The judge had found Oberwise guilty of the charges after a bench trial in August.

Given a chance to speak at the sentencing, Oberwise initially showed no remorse for his actions. He mentioned that his mother, girlfriend and employer sat in the audience and said he had a son to support.

"That's all I've got to say," Oberwise said.

"Are you sure that's all you've got to say?" Timmerman asked.

"That's all I've got to say," Oberwise repeated.

The man's younger victim came to court with her mother Wednesday but did not speak. The mother of the older victim read a letter written by her daughter, who did not attend the hearing.

The teen said she knew it was wrong to sneak out in the middle of the night to meet Oberwise. She now has trust issues, she wrote, describing what Oberwise did to the girls as "a nightmare that goes on and on."

"I had not been exposed to anything like that in my life," the girl wrote.

Assistant State Attorney Anthony Duran said Oberwise met one of the girls on MySpace and began trading phone calls and text messages with her.

One night in January 2008, he picked the girl and her friend up at a park and drove them to the Sweetbay Supermarket parking lot in FishHawk Ranch. The girls took turns acting as lookouts in the front seat of the car while Oberwise engaged in sex acts with each of them in the back seat, Duran said.

Oberwise had no prior felony arrests. He will now be classified as a sexual offender.

Later in the hearing, at the urging of his attorney, Oberwise decided he had something more to say to Timmerman.

"I just need to say to the court how sorry I am," he said. "And that's basically it."

The judge wasn't moved.

"It's too late," Timmerman said. "You were there prowling, looking for something. And you got what you wanted. I think you're sorry that you got caught."

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3337.

Seminole man sentenced to 20 years in prison for sex offenses 10/28/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 4:14pm]
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