A former New Jersey deputy sheriff was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Thursday after he filmed himself having sex with a 17-year-old girl in Pennsylvania and shared the video online, authorities said.
Joshua Padilla, 37, also sent photos of his genitals to arrange sex with an individual he believed to be a 14-year-old girl, prosecutors said. But the girl really was an agent of the Pennsylvania Attorney General.
He is also charged with having sex with three unconscious women in another case in Monmouth County, NJ, officials said.
Padilla, a New Jersey resident who lives in Eatontown, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his offenses against the 17-year-old victim he had sex with and was videotaped in Upper Mount Bethel Township, Pennsylvania, officials said . That is the mandatory minimum sentence under federal law.
The sentence runs concurrently with his 5- to 10-year prison sentence in the state of Pennsylvania for attempting to entice a 14-year-old girl to have sex, prosecutors said.
“It’s hard to understand how an adult, let alone a sworn law enforcement officer, could have caused[the 17-year-old]that kind of harm,” Assistant Attorney Josh Davison said in his sentencing note.
Defense attorney John J. McMahon Jr. of Philadelphia said in his memorandum that the 15-year sentence was reasonable. He noted that Padilla was an honorably discharged US Army veteran who had no other crimes convicted when he was arrested.
Padilla worked in New Jersey as a Middlesex County sheriff’s deputy until his arrest in February 2019, McMahon said.
Records show that Padilla met the 17-year-old online in the spring of 2018. He picked her up, drove her to Upper Mount Bethel Church and had sex with her in his car.
The video, which he recorded with his cellphone, has been viewed more than 200 times on social media, Davison said in his memo.
“His victimization of (the 17-year-old) reflects his true character as a predator with a utter disregard for the law and crime victims,” Davison wrote.
While authorities were investigating these allegations in 2019, the state agent, who appeared to be 14, reached out to Padilla via social media and text messages. Padilla sent the photos of his genitals, saying he wanted to meet the girl and asked for photos.
Court documents don’t say whether a conviction in the separate Monmouth County case alleging he had sex with unconscious women could add more years to Padilla’s 15-year federal prison sentence.
After Padilla’s arrest, authorities found videos on Padilla’s electronic devices of him sexually abusing women “who were clearly unconscious and unresponsive,” according to the Monmouth County Attorney’s Office.
Many of the attacks took place at Padilla’s home in Monmouth County or in Middlesex County, authorities said.
“These were truly unspeakable crimes against utterly helpless victims,” Monmouth County Acting Attorney Lori Linskey said in September 2021.
The charges against Monmouth County come from three different women and assaults from 2016 to 2018, prosecutors said. Padilla was also found to have material showing child sexual abuse, authorities said.
The status of the case remains unchanged since Padilla was charged in September 2021, according to Monmouth County Attorney General Chris Swendeman.
In Monmouth County, Padilla was charged with eight counts of aggravated sexual assault, seven counts of invasion of privacy, four counts of serious criminal sexual contact and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.
In Northampton County, Pennsylvania, in March 2021, he pleaded guilty to distributing sexual material to a minor, criminally using a communications device, and two counts of unlawful contact with a minor.
In that case, he was sentenced in March 2022 by Northampton County Judge Anthony Beltrami to 5 to 10 years in state prison.
Padilla pleaded guilty in federal court in December 2021 to the manufacture, distribution and possession of child pornography. He was convicted by US District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno on Thursday.
“His willingness to engage in such deviant behavior with (the 17-year-old) demonstrates that he is a sexual predator, preying on the most vulnerable and innocent victims,” Davison wrote.
Padilla was initially suspended from his $56,690 a year job as a deputy sheriff without pay before losing the job.
Any additional victims or anyone with information about a victim is asked to call Detective Brian Hammarstrom of the Monmouth County Attorney’s Office at 732-431-7160, ext. 6413.
Anonymous tips about the case can be submitted to the Monmouth County Crime Stoppers confidential tips line at 1-800-671-4400, by texting “MONMOUTH” and referring to 274637, or at www.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com.
NJ.com reporter Jeff Goldman contributed to this report.
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Rudy Miller can be reached at [email protected].