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  1. Hillsborough

Ex-Pasco school official gets life for child porn, sex abuse

William Matthew Napolitano, a former Pasco County school transportation manager, was sentenced Thursday to life in prison. He was arrested on child pornography charges in 2017. A sentencing memo states that he engaged in a long-term sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy, and had “an ongoing campaign to have sex with minors.” [Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office]
Published Dec. 7, 2018

TAMPA — A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a former Pasco County school transportation manager to life in prison for engaging in sex acts with a teenage boy and collecting hundreds of images showing children being sexually abused.

The maximum sentence came even after William Napolitano's victim spoke of "remorse" and his mother said she had failed as a parent.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington said Napolitano alone was to blame for his crimes.

"These are the decisions you made," the judge told him. "These are the things you decided to do."

RELATED: Federal prosecutor: Ex-Pasco school officials preyed on children

Napolitano, 35, put his head down and wept quietly during the sentencing hearing. He asked not to be given a life sentence, saying he has goals and dreams.

"I'm deeply sorry for what I did," he said. "I humbly admit to God that I have hurt others and will make restitution."

The judge also ordered him to pay a total of $28,000 to the victims identified in the various pornographic images federal agents recovered from him.

Napolitano was arrested in 2017 and signed a plea agreement in August, admitting to conduct that Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis D. Murray described in a sentencing memo as "an ongoing campaign to have sex with minors." He acknowledged a long-term predatory sexual relationship with a boy who was 15 when they met.

He took pornographic pictures of the boy without his knowledge and shared them with others, the memo states. The images became part of Napolitano's vast child pornography collection, which featured victims as young as infants being subjected to sadistic sexual abuse.

Napolitano had worked for the Pasco County school district for more than a decade, starting as a school bus driver in 2004. Before that, he was a child care worker for the YMCA in New Port Richey, according to prosecutors.

His arrest came about four months before authorities also arrested Kyle Ritsema, an assistant principal at Cypress Creek Middle/High School in Wesley Chapel. He, too, was accused of possessing child pornography. Homeland Security Investigations agents recovered text messages he and Napolitano exchanged in which they discussed child pornography and lewd acts with kids.

"The two constantly traded war stories about sexually abusing children and conspired to have group sex with minors," the memo stated.

Ritsema is charged in a separate criminal case. He is scheduled for a change of plea hearing Dec. 21.

RELATED: Federal prosecutor: Ex-Pasco school officials prey on children

Federal agents became aware of Napolitano during an investigation into child pornography that was being traded through Kik, an instant messaging application. An undercover agent had several sexually explicit conversations with a person who used the screen name "routemeup." The name was registered to a "William Snyder," but an investigation linked the internet protocol address to Napolitano.

Investigators later raided his New Port Richey home. On his iPhone, a laptop and a DropBox account, they found hundreds of pornographic images. Prosecutors described the collection as "staggering," both for its size and the heinousness of its content.

"The level of depravity is frightening," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis D. Murray. "He seems hard-wired to create sex with children, even babies."

The investigation later revealed that Napolitano had repeatedly sexually abused a boy.

The victim was a student in a local school when he met Napolitano on a social networking application, prosecutors said. Starting in 2014, Napolitano engaged in an "ongoing enticement" of the boy, having sexual conversations with him and soliciting nude photos. On several occasions, he sexually abused the boy in his car while parked in public places. Another time, Napolitano sneaked into the teen's bedroom, which he shared with two younger brothers, and sexually abused him there.

In court, Murray read a letter the victim, now 19, had written to the judge. He wrote of the pain Napolitano inflicted on his family and the panic attacks he now suffers.

"I feel myself dying," he said. "I realize my childhood is gone. I just want everything to be okay, because it's not. And it probably never will be again."

The victim's great aunt, who helped raise him, stood and stared menacingly at Napolitano when it was her turn to speak.

"I hope the only thing in your pants from now on is your hands in your pockets," she said. " 'Child predator' should be written across your forehead."

Several members of Napolitano's family sat behind him and wept.

His mother, Amy Napolitano, spoke through tears to apologize to the victim's family. She expressed regret for her son.

"I failed to show you the true love of a family," she told him.

Richard Carpenter, a psychologist who examined Napolitano in jail, said the defendant told him he'd been sexually abused himself as a child. He said Napolitano shows no sign of an anti-social personality, realizes his conduct was wrong, and would likely be responsive to sex offender treatment.

Although the federal sentencing guidelines suggested life, Defense Attorney John Trevena asked the judge to impose a lesser penalty. He noted that Napolitano cooperated with federal investigators, giving them a number of leads into other child exploitation investigations. Prosecutors ignored that, he said, and the fact that Napolitano pleaded guilty.

"We're going to lock him away for life after he's pled (guilty)?" Trevena said. "Isn't there supposed to be some mitigation?"

The judge said her concern was to protect the public.

"The only appropriate sentence for someone who has sex with a minor is life," she said.

Contact Dan Sullivan at dsullivan@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.

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