NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – A case that slogged through the state court system for more than seven years closed Friday after Bartholomew McInerney, a former baseball coach at St. Rose High School who pleaded guilty last month to exchanging sexual texts with his players in what was said to be an attempt to discourage premarital sex, was sentenced to time served.
Under the provisions of a plea deal McInerney agreed to with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, McInerney, 51, was not sentenced to probation or required to register as a sex offender after he pleaded guilty last month to 10 counts of fourth-degree child endangerment. However, on Friday, McInerney was sentenced by Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez to 18 months in prison.
But McInerney received credit for the 872 days he had already served behind bars for an original conviction that was overturned, Jimenez said. That meant the 18-month sentence handed down Friday was already completed, and McInerney, of Spring Lake, was free to go.
McInerney was not required to register as a sex offender because he pleaded guilty to a low-level fourth-degree crime, McInerney’s lawyer, Edward Bertucio, said previously.
McInerney, known as “Coach Bart” when he taught at St. Rose from 1994 to 2007, had been convicted in 2010 on 10 counts of second-degree child endangerment after prosecutors said McInerney encouraged his players via text to masturbate and talk about their sexual activity, sometimes in exchange for money. McInerney was sentenced to 18 years and became an inmate at Southern State Prison in Bridgeton.
While incarcerated, McInerney appealed for a new trial and won in appellate court when judges determined the trial judge gave confusing instructions to the jury. McInerney was released from prison Oct. 11, 2012.
The new trial was scheduled to begin next month. But before it started, McInerney entered a plea deal with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. Along with the conditions of the deal that let McInerney avoid probation and registration, he would also not serve more time than what he had already served.
The case was brought to Middlesex County Superior Court because of the “complicated history of the case,” Bertucio said previously.
“This was not an easy resolution for the state,” Meghan Doyle, a Monmouth County assistant prosecutor, said in court Friday. “The state’s position is the defendant did take advantage as to what the role was as the victims’ coach. However, I think for the first time during this whole process, the victims’ rights have to come first, and it’s because of their position in this case that the state entered this plea.”
Prosecutors said McInerney engaged in sex talk with his players for his own sexual gratification. Bertucio said that was not the case, and that McInerney talked about sexual activity with his players to steer them away from premarital sex and did not seek any kind of sexual thrill.
Bertucio said at the time of the guilty plea in July that negotiations had been taking place for a while, and that the plea deal would help both McInerney and his former players move past a drawn-out legal battle.