Thomas Hartshorn

Sheriff’s deputies escort Thomas Hartshorn, left, a former West Middlesex borough council president, to Mercer County Jail after he was sentenced for unlawful contact with a minor.

MERCER – A common pleas judge sentenced former West Middlesex borough council President Thomas Hartshorn on Wednesday to spend 10 days in jail for sending a 15-year-old a picture of his genitals.

Judge Daniel P. Wallace said Hartshorn, 55, of 116 Penn Ave., West Middlesex, had a “criminal infatuation” with the victim, but the victim’s mother, the victim and her best friend testified that it was much more than just sending her a photo.

The victim’s mother said many people in the community trusted Hartshorn, and he groomed her daughter for a year.

“You have completely wrecked our family,” she told Hartshorn. “You disgust me.”

She also said that Hartshorn bought her daughter a phone and gave her money. They would communicate over the phone.

“I am so grateful I found that phone,” she said. “What you have done will haunt her for the rest of her life.”

The victim testified that Hartshorn promised her he would leave his wife for her. She also said that he placed his hand on her knee at one point and came up behind her, pressed his body to hers and kissed her.

“I would like to see you behind bars,” the victim told Hartshorn. “You are a pedophile.”

Wallace said the sentence would have been a state prison sentence if Hartshorn would have crossed the line into touching the victim criminally. The judge said other than sending the photo – which is a criminal act – Hartshorn was inappropriate in the way he touched her.

Hartshorn pleaded guilty June 9 to unlawful contact with a minor. A charge of corruption of minors was not prosecuted.

Wallace sentenced Hartshorn to 1 year less 1 day to 2 years less 1 day with 10 days to be served in Mercer County Jail, and the remainder of the minimum sentence to be served on house arrest. The jail sentence will be followed by 5 years’ probation. Hartshorn becomes a Tier II sex offender registered under Megan’s Law. He will have to report his whereabouts to the state police for the next 25 years under the statute.

Wallace said he would have sentenced Hartshorn to spend the minimum in Mercer County Jail if the work release program was in effect. Hartshorn has been an employee of Dairy Farmers of America for 25 years. Wallace said he did not want Hartshorn to lose his job.

Hartshorn also testified at the hearing.

“I apologize to the family,” Hartshorn said without turning to face the family. “I made a terrible mistake. Forty-five years of my life is being thrown away for four seconds. It was a stupid mistake.”

The judge asked what Hartshorn meant by “four seconds,” and he replied that was the amount of time it took to send the victim a picture of his penis.

The judge allowed the victim’s mother to provide clarification on that statement.

“Please,” she told the judge. “This was going on for a year.”

Wallace told the victim and her family that they had his complete sympathy. Turning his attention to Hartshorn, the judge asked him why he did not face the family when he apologized and aksed if he would like to do that now.

Hartshorn turned to the family and said, “I’m very sorry.”

“We accept your apology,” the victim’s mother responded. “But I hope you go get help.”

Sheriff’s deputies shackled Hartshorn and escorted him to the jail.

Follow Melissa Klaric on twitter @HeraldKlaric or email her at mklaric@sharonherald.com

Follow Melissa Klaric on twitter @HeraldKlaric or email her at mklaric@sharonherald.com

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Melissa has been a news reporter for The Herald since 2013, covering breaking news, northern Mercer County, Sharon City schools and education. She is a 1992 graduate of Youngstown State University with a Bachelor of Arts in communications.