He was a known sex offender on the run from law enforcement, who managed to abuse a middle school girl and get her pregnant. Now, he’s in custody as investigators try to figure out if he has other victims who have yet to come forward.
The suspect’s name is Joseph Caracciolo, 47, but he also goes by Joseph Crillo, Joseph Grillo, and Tony Gallardo. Whatever name he goes by, federal agents say he preys on children for sex, and in one case he got a 12-year-old pregnant.
The evidence investigators and prosecutors have against Caracciolo is strong. He has remained in contact with his victim, and has multiple times asked the girl, who’s now 13, if he can make contact with their baby daughter, who is now five months old.
In one of dozens of texts Caracciolo had with his middle school-age victim who lives in Southern New Jersey, he wrote, “I really miss you so much . . . And I want to hold My [Name of the Baby] so bad.” That name is, of course, that of the baby girl Caracciolo got his victim pregnant with.
“Unfortunately, there is nothing unusual about it, and it’s only getting worse and worse,” said Lynn Schafran. She is a senior vice president at Legal Momentum, the women’s legal defense and education fund and she trains judges on how to handle sexual victims’ cases.
Caracciolo went before a federal judge in Camden, New Jersey Wednesday, and is no stranger to the legal system. In fact, he’s been convicted of bigamy, failure to register as a sex offender, and larceny. Caracciolo is also a wanted fugitive from California, where he refused to register as a sex offender.
“Offenders are given ridiculously low sentences,” Schafran told PIX11 News, “so they’re incarcerated and then they’re out. They’re not even under probation supervision.”
So while he had been on the run for years from the law in California, Caracciolo was here in New York, apparently making friends with girls online. One of them, the one who he eventually got pregnant, lives in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey.
Agents say that last year, Caracciolo drove down to the South Jersey Shore town, had sex with the 12 year-old in her home, then drove with her to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, where he had more sex with her. About nine months later, she gave birth to the baby girl. When her parents became aware of her pregnancy, it set off the investigation.
FBI agents monitored Caracciolo’s location through his cellphone, which he used to keep in touch with the girl. That eventually led to his arrest near Herald Square on August 28th. It came after he acknowledged many times in texts and phone conversations with his victim, which were monitored by investigators, that he had gotten the girl pregnant. That admission most likely means one more thing, according to sex crimes experts.
“Very often,” said Schafran, “if the case is properly investigated, it will be discovered that there are other victims.”
FBI agents agree with that assessment, which is why they are asking anyone who may have had any contact with Caracciolo to click on this link https://tips.fbi.gov., or to call them at 800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324).
If Caracciolo is found guilty on the charge against him, of traveling in interstate commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor, he could face 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.