A pediatric medical assistant who landed a job at a Bucks County clinic despite a past child pornography arrest was sentenced Monday to 12 years and seven months in federal prison after FBI agents caught him re-offending.
Cameron Carlucci, 27, of Philadelphia, admitted he had lied about his record on his job application for Valley Pediatrics in Warminster Township. The clinic did not perform a background check before hiring him, prosecutors said.
Carlucci maintained he never touched any patients inappropriately, but he told FBI agents he often viewed sexually explicit images of children online during his downtime at work.
Standing before U.S. District Judge Berle M. Schiller on Monday, Carlucci apologized to the children depicted in the collection of more than 56,000 pornographic images and videos he amassed.
“Even though I didn’t know any of the children on a personal note,” he said, “I would like to apologize for watching you get abused, and I did nothing to help you.”
The question of how Carlucci was even hired at Valley Pediatrics hung over Monday’s proceedings.
State law requires employers who work with children to conduct comprehensive background checks on potential employees. However, authorities have little ability to track whether private businesses regularly comply.
But a simple search of public records would have revealed Carlucci had been charged by Philadelphia police in 2010 with child pornography-related felonies.
He later struck a deal with state prosecutors and pleaded guilty to a lesser misdemeanor count of “selling obscene sexual materials” — one which did not require him to register as a sex offender and for which he received a five-year term of probation. Court officers terminated his probation after 19 months, saying Carlucci had successfully completed a treatment program for child pornography addiction.
Assistant U.S Attorney Michelle Rotella described that deal Monday as “highly unusual” but added it was equally “outrageous” that the clinic did not uncover his conviction on even that less serious count.
“His position with Valley Pediatrics ensured that he had access to, physical contact with and was surrounded by minor children every minute of every workday,” Rotella said in court filings. “The fact that Carlucci could have chosen any line of work or any medical facility, but instead sought out a medical office that catered exclusively to children clearly demonstrates his true predator nature.”
A spokesperson for Valley Pediatrics declined to comment. But in a letter posted to the company’s Facebook shortly after Carlucci pleaded guilty to federal charges in February, pediatrician Ronald Endo said the clinic had cut ties with him as soon as it learned of his arrest.
Carlucci’s duties included escorting children to examination rooms, weighing them and taking their vital signs, but Endo maintained Carlucci never had any unsupervised contact with patients.
But the doctor also insisted that Valley Pediatric couldn’t have couldn’t have known about Carlucci’s past arrest because he committed his crimes as a minor and that his record had been sealed. The clinic operators were later forced to retract that claim when it turned out not to be true and it was revealed that they had never checked.
“We have always prioritized hiring employees with the highest level of credentials and excellent backgrounds,” the doctor wrote. “We are committed to fortifying our hiring practices even further to prevent this type of situation from happening again.”
Carlucci, too, expressed some confusion about the status of his earlier conviction when interviewed by federal authorities last year. He said he didn’t mention his record on his job application because he mistakenly believed that it had been expunged once he completed his probation.
But within days of his early release from treatment in 2013, he created Dropbox and Skype accounts to begin downloading and trading child pornography again.
Some of the images investigators found on his computer depicted children as young as 4 months old being forced into sexual encounters with adult men.
Carlucci also admitted to agents that he often would go to shopping malls to watch young boys there, then masturbate in the bathrooms.
At his sentencing hearing, his lawyer, Natasha Taylor-Smith, argued Carlucci’s addiction to child pornography stemmed from a troubled childhood and sexual abuse he endured at a young age from his father.
Developmentally disabled due to his mother’s heavy use of drugs while she was pregnant and a stroke he suffered in the womb, Carlucci had trouble forging healthy relationships while growing up in the foster care system, Taylor-Smith said.
“Plagued by the rejection he feels due to being abandoned at birth, betrayed by his father and shunned by his peers, Mr. Carlucci eventually resorted to living in a virtual world away from direct contact with people outside of his family,” she said in a filing with the court.
Still, Carlucci told the judge, the fault for his crimes belonged squarely on his shoulders. In addition to his prison term, Carlucci was also ordered to complete 10 years’ probation upon his release and pay $35,000 in restitution to some individuals depicted in his pornography collection.