YORK COUNTY, S.C. (Rock Hill Herald) - A Virginia man, accused of years of sex acts with a South Carolina minor after meeting her online, will remain in jail without bail, a judge ruled Wednesday.
John DiGeronimo, 60, had been in the York County jail since his arrest in March. After his initial arrest, police and prosecutors added more than 120 more charges in April as the investigation unfolded, according to court testimony and documents.
DiGeronimo faces 132 charges including burglary, criminal sexual conduct, stalking, and sexual exploitation of a minor, records show. DiGeronimo is accused of having dozens of naked and sexual pictures of the victim, according to the arrest warrants.
DiGeronimo used the Internet, including Google Hangout and another app called Omegle, to meet the child online and continue communication and repeated sexual meetings, according to prosecutors and arrest warrants obtained by The Herald. The Omegle app is used for strangers to meet on the Internet, prosecutors said in court.
DiGeronimo initiated a sexual relationship in 2017 with the female child who was 14 at the time, warrants state. The relationship went on until 2020, according to the warrants.
In court, 16th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Sharon Ohayon said the police investigation began earlier this year when DiGeronimo allegedly sent packets of pornographic material to a high school in York County, and other packets to the victim’s home and other locations.
“The images depicted the victim and the defendant in sexual poses,” Ohayon said in court.
Detectives with the York County Sheriff’s Office found that DiGeronimo had broken into the victim’s home several times to steal materials that only he and the victim knew about, Ohayon said in court. Deputies confiscated dozens of images from electronic devices and found that DiGeronimo had video chats with the victim, according to prosecutors and the warrants.
The Herald is not naming the alleged victim, where she lives, or what school she attended.
Prosecutors and deputies opposed bond for DiGeronimo.
In court, the victim’s father asked South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Dan Hall to keep DiGeronimo in jail pending trial because his family is afraid for their lives.
“My daughter still has nightmares,” the victim’s father said in court. “The whole family is terrified that he will get out on the street.”
DiGeronimo, of Alexandria, Va., made $84,000 per year working for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office before his arrest, court documents show.
He has no previous criminal record, said his lawyer, Christopher Wellborn of Rock Hill. Wellborn said in court that DiGeronimo is not a flight risk or a danger to others. The large number of cases do not involve accusations of multiple victims, Wellborn said.
“There is only one alleged victim in all these cases,” Wellborn said.
Hall denied bail. Hall said DiGeronimo’s home being hours away makes him a potential flight risk and potential danger to both the victim and the public. DiGeronimo is accused of driving seven hours from his Virginia home to have illegal activities with a minor, Hall said.
“This activity was begun via the Internet,” Hall said. “The allegation is the defendant acted on that information and actually drove, or somehow got to York County.”
DiGeronimo faces up life in prison if convicted. No trial date has been set.