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Pedophile receives life sentence for sexually assaulting nine boys



Published: Tue, October 17, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The perpetrator tutored the boys at his home and at a special-needs school.

CLEVELAND (AP) -- A man accused of sexually assaulting nine boys who have physical or mental disabilities was sentenced Monday to life in prison.

Phillip Distasio, 34, of Rocky River, a Cleveland suburb, admitted he is a pedophile but believed he was practicing a sacred ritual protected by civil rights laws.

"I took down all of my guards and went on a self-destructive crusade of honesty," a handcuffed Distasio told Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Kathleen Sutula.

"In the long run I'm glad to have been found sane, because I didn't want to end this as a crazy person who didn't know what he was talking about, but as a sane one who did," Distasio said, while parents and relatives of his victims listed and sometimes wept in the courtroom.

Plead to charges

Distasio pleaded guilty Sept. 18 to all 74 counts in an indictment that accused him of rape and several other charges, such as pandering obscenity to minors and corrupting another with drugs.

He was accused of molesting two disabled boys he tutored at his home and raping seven autistic boys at a Cleveland school for special-needs students where he was a teacher's aide.

All but one of the victims were under 13.

Distasio told the court he was leader of a church called Arcadian Fields Ministries.

He read from handwriting on a notepad and asked the judge to consider allowing him to do public speaking about pedophilia, rather than sending him to prison.

The judge interrupted Distasio's remarks, saying the only concern for the court was whether he felt any remorse.

Some of the graphic journals Distasio kept were read into the court record at the sentencing.

"He's just here telling you he's some messiah for pedophiles, but really he's a monster," said Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Brendan Sheehan.




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