In front of a courtroom packed with family as well as victims, John Bednarik II pleaded guilty Friday and was sentenced to nine to 21 months in prison for videotaping female co-workers at one of them while she was pumping breast milk.
One victim told the Lehigh County Court hearing that Bednarik "took something so natural and pure and turned it into something perverted."
Bednarik, who broke down in tears while testifying, said he never meant to hurt anyone. And his wife, who is expecting their second child, told the court her husband is "a devoted family man" and that their daughter "needs a daddy in her life."
Bednarik, a DeSales graduate who was the university Director of Campus Environment at the time of his arrest, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated invasion of privacy, one count of attempted invasion of privacy, and one "no contest" Alford plea.
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Three of the four victims -- all identified by their initials -- took the opportunity to tell Judge James Anthony of the pain and anguish they were coping with as a result of Bednarik's actions.
"My life is forever changed in ways I never though possible," said one victim, identified in court records as the woman Bednarik videotaped numerous times pumping breast milk for her then 7-month-old son.
"He took something so natural and pure and turned it into something disgusting," she said. "Every time I nurse my son I think of [Bednarik] and that sickens me. He has harmed the bond between mother and child."
The woman, who lives in the same development as Bednarik and his family, told the court of her constant fear and anxiety in her neighborhood. "He is a predator in the purest sense. I ask the court to make sure other mothers, other daughters aren't violated."
Other victims spoke of the fear they feel when approached by strangers in public, anxiety over public restrooms and locker rooms, as well as a constant fear of running into Bednarik.
"This has changed the way I view people," said another victim. "I trusted you, and you lied."
Bednarik's attorney, Jay Nigrini, presented 18 letters, including one from Bednarik's parents, attesting to his character.
"This is a man who lived a model life until he made some very bad decisions," Nigrini said.
Bednarik's wife, Dorie, also asked the court to look at her husband's character when considering sentencing. "He is a devoted family man, he's been my rock."
Bednarik's wife, who is expecting their second child in November, also alluded to hard times at home, including illness and a newborn daughter, which several of his victims say he told them when confronted.
"My heart goes out to the victims in this case," the wife said. "I am deeply saddened by [Bednarik's actions]. His daughter needs a daddy in her life."
When given the opportunity to speak to the court, Bednarik asked for forgiveness from his victims, his family and from DeSales.
"I in no way, shape or form meant to maliciously hurt [the women]," said Bednarik before breaking down in tears.
But according to Lehigh County first assistant district attorney Steven Luksa, his crime was worse than a physical injury. "[Bednarik] inflicted emotional trauma on his victims. A physical wound can heal, but this is the type of wound that may never heal completely."
Bednarik's private actions, Luksa pointed out, are a true testament to Bednarik's character, regardless of the quantity of letters written on his behalf. "The mettle of someone's character isn't what they do in public, it's how they act when the doors are closed and no one is watching who you are."
Anthony agreed with Luksa, sentencing Bednarik for aggravated misdemeanors, which carry a stronger sentence than the original misdemeanors.
"You had a special trust and confidence with your [victims], and you broke that trust," Anthony said. "You have had a very clear devastating effect of your family as well as the victims in this case."
While his wife silently cried and the victims of the crime looked on, Anthony sentenced Bednarik to nine to 21 months in Lehigh County Prison and 15 months' probation. Anthony also granted Bednarik work release immediately once he reports to prison Sept. 21.
When approached, DeSales Universtity officials had no comment on the plea and sentencing.