By RYAN DUNN
OTTAWA — Gary Badertscher will likely serve the rest of his life in prison after again being convicted of committing sex crimes involving minors.
Badertscher, 53, of Gilboa, was sentenced Tuesday in Putnam County Common Pleas Court to 28 years of incarceration for soliciting young girls and possessing child pornography.
Between 2012 and 2013, Badertscher encouraged minors to send him illicit photographs online, Putnam County Assistant Prosecutor Todd Schroeder said.
Investigators found between 200 and 300 images of child pornography on his home computer, said Judge Randall Basinger.
Badertscher pleaded guilty in July to three counts of endangering children, each a second-degree felony; disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, a fourth-degree felony; pandering sexual matter involving a minor, a fourth-degree felony; and illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, a fifth-degree felony.
Badertscher was a U.S. Marine veteran who moved to Gilboa in hopes of restarting his life, his attorney Christopher Zografides said.
“Obviously this is a very difficult case for everyone involved, the court, state, families,” Zografides said.
Badertscher declined to comment prior to sentencing, on his attorney’s recommendation. No victims spoke, either.
More than 60 charges, ranging from a human trafficking charge to dozens of child pornography allegations, were dropped as part of plea negotiations.
Prosecutors dismissed the human trafficking charge because they expected a lengthy sentence on others charges and hoped to protect the victim’s privacy, Schroeder said.
Badertscher’s prison sentence “essentially amounts to a life in prison for him,” Schroeder said after the hearing.
Badertscher’s criminal record reaches back nearly 25 years. It includes crimes of violence and drug possession, Judge Basinger said.
This is Badertscher’s third conviction for sex offenses in the past 15 years.
Badertscher was previously convicted of fondling a child in 2000 in Florida, and sending sexual messages to someone he believed was a teenage Findlay girl in 2004. The girl was actually a city police detective.
Badertscher served 26 months in an Ohio prison for that offense.
“It appears to the court, Mr. Badertscher, that this is a series of inappropriate sexual contacts and activity that have quite clearly gone on since the year 2000 when you were in Florida,” Judge Basinger said.
Basinger credited Badertscher with 240 days served in jail. Badertscher said he plans to appeal his sentence.
Separately, Schroeder said charges are not expected to be filed after an arson fire destroyed Badertscher’s house trailer.
The fire struck the Sugar Ridge Road residence in Gilboa on Dec. 21, the day after area newspapers widely reported his indictment.
Badertscher was in jail at the time.