Reporting Brad Segall
By Brad Segall, Walt Hunter and Elizabeth Hur
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – An Eyewitness News Exclusive on a story you saw first on 3.
After advertising for babysitting jobs, a local man is accused of molesting a child he was supposed to be caring for. We are now learning our reporting is prompting a major online investigation.
Gary Romano is charged with assaulting a toddler but up until Thursday, he continued to advertise his babysitting services online – not anymore.
When police confiscated Gary Romano’s computer last year and charged him with child sex abuse for trading sexually explicit images with other users, they found a picture of him touching a child. They say further investigation determined that the 56-year-old man had used several Internet sites to advertise his babysitting services.
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman says at least one of those ads was answered.
“He was hired by a family to watch their two-year-old daughter, and he in fact did do that,” Ferman said. “And that was the time that he had the opportunity to molest this particular child.”
Prosecutors say Romano got in touch with his young victim’s family using the site: Sittercity.com. What’s alarming is when Eyewitness News went on the site Thursday afternoon, Romano’s online profile was still active and advertising for babysitting services.
Furthermore, Sittercity.com offers LexisNexis background checks. When we checked on Romano, the results showed no history of past criminal or sexual offenses. Eyewitness News contacted the company and it responded:
“Sittercity was extremely saddened to learn of this situation. Please know that as soon as it was brought to our attention, we terminated Mr. Romano’s account and notified anyone who may have had contact with him about the termination.
We have passed along your questions to LexisNexis, who is looking into this situation and will be contacting you shortly.” –Mary Schwartz, Sittercity Public Relations Director.
Authorities say they now want to hear from other families who may have hired Romano to watch their kids.
“We are obviously concerned that there may be other children out there for whom he babysat, people who responded to those sort of ads, and so we’re hoping that anyone who had such contact with him will contact the Montgomery County Detective Bureau,” Ferman said.
Ferman adds that parents need to be vigilant about whom they hire, and do background checks if they are going the Internet route.
Romano is free on $50,000 cash bail on the new charges. He’s already pleaded guilty to the previous charges of possessing child porn on his computer and trading those sexually explicit images with other computer users across the country.