A 46-year-old Nazareth man has pleaded guilty to allegations that he contacted a 12-year-old girl 25 times through explicit text messages and asked her to send him photos of herself.
Christopher Rothrock pleaded guilty in Northampton County Court Sept. 7 to one count of criminal solicitation-corruption of minors and five counts of child pornography. He had been facing the criminal solicitation charge, a charge of corruption of minors, and 100 counts of child pornography.
The child pornography charges come from police’s reported discovery of several video files and thousands of image files depicting child pornography on several electronic devices in his possession, according to court papers.
Rothrock had been scheduled for trial Sept. 10.
Under the guilty plea, the criminal solicitation charge is a first-degree misdemeanor, the corruption of minors charge – also a first-degree misdemeanor – was withdrawn, and the five counts of child pornography are third-degree felonies. The original 100 counts of child pornography were second-degree felonies.
Calls to Assistant District Attorney Patricia Broscius and Rothrock’s attorney, Christopher Shipman of Easton, were not returned.
At Rothrock’s April 3 preliminary hearing, where he waived the charges to county court, authorities said he faced up to 20 years in prison and a maximum of $45,000 in fines.
His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 7 before Judge Stephen Baratta.
When he was charged in January, Rothrock was living on the 300 block of Belvidere Street in Nazareth with his girlfriend and her daughter. A Patch story about his April preliminary hearing said he was currently residing in Hellertown.
At the preliminary hearing, District Judge John Capobianco – at Broscius’ urging – ordered Rothrock to have no unsupervised contact with minors, including his girlfriend’s daughter, then 13.
”The girl is the same age as the victim in this matter,” Broscius said at the preliminary hearing. “It’s not even his biological daughter.”
Court records provide the following background:
--The parents of the 12-year-old girl contacted Nazareth Police Officer Jacob Abel on Feb. 14, 2011 when they found inappropriate text messages on their daughter’s cell phone. The messages were sent the day before.
--The girl’s father also called Rothrock on Feb. 14, and Rothrock allegedly told him that “it [text messaging] got out of control” and “he got over excited.”
--Abel found that Rothrock had contacted the juvenile 25 times through text and picture messaging. Two of the text messages said, “I would keep you warm and cozy” and “I would reach under the covers and rub you all over.”
--Rothrock also asked the girl to send him pictures of her exposed stomach area.
--The district attorney’s office examined Rothrock’s cell phone – obtained through a search warrant – and found two deleted pictures of the girl but did not recover any text messages.
--But county Det. Barry Golazeski was able to see that Rothrock searched – using his Smartphone – for “preteen nude girls” and “10 & 12 yo nude girls.”
--Rothrock’s home computer and related items – obtained with another search warrant – yielded several video files and thousands of image files depicting child pornography.
--On Jan. 11, 2012, Rothrock admitted he possessed child pornography. But the court records did not say if he admitted to text messaging the girl.
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