Today’s news:

Rochdale LL coach sentenced to 18 yrs.

TimesLedger Newspapers

The 54-year-old man who admitted to using his position as a Little League coach at Rochdale Village to sexually abuse his young players was sentenced to 18 years in jail last week, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced.

David Hartshorn, once named “Rochdale Village Little League Coach of the Year,” was sentenced by Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter Friday after he admitted to sexually abusing three teenage boys and filming two others in sexual acts between July 2009 and August 2010.

“A coach can have a lasting impact on a child’s life. In this case, unfortunately, it was not in a good way,” Brown said. “The defendant has admitted to being a sexual predator who took advantage of his position as a Little League coach to get close to young boys before sexually abusing them. For that reason alone, the prison sentence meted out by the court today is more than warranted.”

Hartshorn, who has been held on bail since he was arrested in February 2011, pleaded guilty in August to one count of first-degree criminal sexual act, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual act and two counts of using a child in a sexual performance.

Hartshorn collapsed in court in the winter of 2011 when he was arraigned on charges that could have put him away for up to 25 years.

According to the district attorney, Hartshorn had used his position as coach to gain the trust of his young players and lure them back to his home, where he showed them pornographic materials, videotaped them in sexual acts and played a sordid game of poker, where the loser would have to perform sexual acts with another boy.

The authorities got tipped off when one of the young boys told his mother, who then went to the police.

Brown said a search warrant executed on Hartshorn’s home turned up VHS and DVD movies showing the young boys engaged in sexual acts, as well as similar photographs showing boys younger than 10.

In the wake of the scandal, Rochdale Village canceled its 2011 Little League season, and one lawmaker highlighted the case as he made an effort to reform the state’s sex offender laws.

State Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) said Hartshorn had pleaded down to similar crimes in the late 1980s, at a time when there was no sex offender registry.

If that happened today, Hevesi said, Hartshorn would still have been able to slip through the system’s cracks, so the lawmaker introduced a bill that would have low-risk sex offenders added to the public database. The bill did not gain any traction, but with Hartshorn’s guilty plea, Hevesi pledged to redouble his efforts when the state Legislature reconvenes in January.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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