EXCLUSIVE REPORT: A New Hampshire widower who photo-shopped head shots of a 12-year-old Wyckoff girl onto images of naked women after showing her pictures of his penis got off with a suspended sentence today, thanks to a plea deal.
Superior Court Judge Edward Jerejian called the behavior “despicable” but gave 66-year-old Robert Alfred Patzelt credit for nine months that he’s spent in the Bergen County Jail, based on the agreement a defense lawyer struck with prosecutors.
He also imposed Megan’s Law sex offender registration for life and a Nicole’s Law restraining order prohibiting contact with the girl and her extended family. The judge also ordered Patzelt to undergo sex offender treatment.
Prosecutors originally charged Patzelt with sexual assault and child endangerment after accusing him of taking advantage of a Christmas visit by showing the girl the penis pictures and then talking with her about oral sex.
Investigators then found the images of the girl’s head placed onto photos of naked women posing provocatively on the same computer, Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Kristin DeMarco said.
Patzelt tried to downplay his motivation in a sex offender evaluation at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel, characterizing the incidents as accidental and inadvertent, DeMarco said, which required him to restate his action to the judge today.
“I didn’t feel that it was intentional for her to see them,” he said of the penis pictures, “but I know she did see them.”
Jerejian then challenged him on the edited photos.
“That wasn’t an accident, was it? Putting her face on the bodies of naked women?” he asked. “Showing her the photos is one thing, but it’s hard to get around the fact of photoshopping a child onto naked bodies.”
Family members didn’t oppose the sentence, DeMarco told the judge.
Although they didn’t attend the proceeding, they submitted a letter saying that Patzelt had once been “a dear friend” but now “seems to take no responsibility for his actions.”
The girl “has struggled with every aspect of her life. Her innocence is gone,” DeMarco said, reading from the letter. “She is so young, and the damage is yet to be seen.”
Patzelt pleaded guilty to third-degree endangering the welfare of a child by sexual conduct. In exchange, prosecutors dropped the second-degree sexual assault charge.
As a convicted felon, he’ll have to surrender firearms that DeMarco said he owns.
The girl’s parents learned of the incident three months after Christmas and contacted Wyckoff police, who called the prosecutor’s office.
A search warrant was executed at Patzelt’s Woodsville, NH home by detectives from the prosecutor’s office, Wyckoff police, the Grafton County Sheriff’s Department and Haverhill police.
He was initially held in the Grafton County Correctional Facility before being brought to Bergen County a little over a week later.
STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
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