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Ex-Teacher and Basketball Coach Caught Messaging Undercover Detective ‘I Want U, I Love U’ Gets Prison Time in Child Sexual Exploitation Case

 
Gregory Mancini mugshot via

Image via WFXP

A former teacher and high school basketball coach in Pennsylvania has been sentenced to spend nearly 10 years in prison following his guilty plea in January 2022 to three counts of sexual exploitation of children.

Gregory Samuel Mancini, 32, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter in the Western District of Pennsylvania, according to a Department of Justice press release.

On Friday, the judge sentenced the Erie, Pa., resident to 114 months in prison (or 9.5 years), plus 15 years of supervised release.

Mancini was accused of crossing state lines and traveling all the way to Georgia with intent to engage in “illicit sexual conduct” with a 13-year-old boy he met while playing Fortnite online.

According the DOJ, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office caught Mancini because the minor alerted them the offender was traveling to Georgia in November 2018. The victim “became upset” about Mancini’s plan.

“When interviewed, Mancini admitted 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 DOJ press release on the case said.

The federal government also said that the defendant sent incriminating messages to an undercover detective posing as the 13-year-old boy.

Those messages said “i want u, I love u,” and “I want to hug u … kiss u … love u.”

The government said that two computers and a thumb drive belonging to Mancini were eventually seized as part of the investigation in January 2020.

“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 DOJ 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 until. He was also an assistant junior varsity basketball coach at Cathedral Prep, a private Catholic high school.

A minute entry on the court docket notes that Mancini was ordered to pay $3,000 restitution, as well as a special assessment of $200.

Court records show that the defendant’s brother wrote a letter in support of his family member. The letter said, in part:

Greg has always and continues to show remorse for his crimes and understands that he has a problem that needs to be dealt with before moving on with his life. Because of this remorse on his part, I believe that if you hand down a sentence that focuses on significant counseling with a minimal period at a federal correctional facility, Greg will be able to overcome his issues and re-enter society as a functioning member once again.

The defense included many other such letters as exhibits in Mancini’s sentencing memorandum.

“Mr. Mancini apologizes to the minor and the minor’s family for the anxiety, panic, and harm caused by his actions. Mr. Mancini notes that the counseling in which he was able to participate prior to being incarcerated provided him insight on his behavior and how or why it changed from law abiding to unlawful—a change slow enough that he was unable to recognize the harm his actions were causing the minor,” the memo says. “Mr. Mancini, his family, and support structure along with his supervised release officer will work together to provide the resources necessary to make sure Mr. Mancini never again falls into this harmful thought process.”

“With new tools to use to help deal with his thoughts and actions, Mr. Mancini submits that he is now able to recognize the bad thought patterns that trigger rationalizing normalcy into behavior that is abnormal and harmful,” the documents added.

Marisa Sarnoff contributed to this report.

[Image via WFXP.]

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Matt Naham is the editor-in-chief of Law&Crime.