Walter Meyerle, the Bucks County man convicted of 170 counts of sex crimes against 15 children ages 4 to 17, was sentenced Thursday to 494 1/2 to 982 years in prison by Bucks County Court Judge Diane Gibbons.

Meyerle, 35, a tattoo artist and Falls Township resident, apparently gained access to children through their parents, creating relationships that involved intercourse, fondling, and phone sex. He was first charged with molesting a Croydon-area girl in March 2011. After a news conference announcing that case, 14 other victims came forward. Meyerle's string of abuse allegedly dates back more than a decade.

Twelve of the victims were in the courtroom Thursday to hear the sentencing, according to Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Schorn. She said Gibbons issued the sentence victim by victim rather than by criminal charge.

"It was really heartfelt and remarkable and obviously very well thought out," Schorn said of the judge's reading.

   - Chris Palmer