WOOD-RIDGE – Senator Paul A. Sarlo today praised Trish Barteck for her efforts in discouraging the “sordid abuse of the Internet to commit horrific crimes” by those who think they can hide with impunity behind fake names in chat rooms.
“Thanks to the courage of Trish Barteck, we now have a New Jersey law against sexual predators who abuse the Internet,” said Senator Sarlo, also the Mayor of this Bergen County community. “Because Trish Barteck was determined to help others avoid what she went through, people everywhere are safer today in New Jersey.”
In 2002, Mrs. Bartek, a mother of three, was victimized when a man drove up to the front of her house after reading a false claim in a chat room that she possessed a “rape fantasy.” In fact, a younger cousin of hers, Jonathan Gilberti, had posed as Mrs. Bartek in the chat room and posted her home address and her description on the Internet.
The man drove off after police were called to Mrs. Barteck’s home and Gilberti was traced when his computer was seized in another similar case. Authorities then discovered there was no specific law in New Jersey against “adult luring,” but today – at Mrs. Barteck’s home – Acting Governor Codey signed S-1429/A-2864, sponsored by Senator Sarlo, to make it a crime punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
“This sends a powerful message, that Trish Barteck, is willing to shed her right to remain anonymous and to speak out about the unspeackable horrors that were a very real threat to her and her entire family,” said Senator Sarlo.
New Jersey statutes contained a second degree offense for “luring a child,” but Senator Sarlo said law enforcement officials including the office of Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli made it clear that a criminal offense for “adult luring” would be critically important for prosecuting criminal offenders using the Internet.
Gilberti ended up getting a 10-year prison term in a plea agreement for an assortment of charges including stalking, harassment and attempted burglary stemming from two similar cases. In both instances, the actual rape was thwarted by the suspicious activities of the men who were duped by Gilberti into showing up at the homes of the two women.
“It’s an incredible victimization in Trish Barteck’s case in that her identity was placed on the Internet for the world to view her as someone who had a rape fantasy,” Senator Sarlo said. “The source of that evil is being rightfully punished, but now we have a law on the books to make it clear that such behavior will be targeted.”