By Bruno Matarazzo Jr. Republican-American
PROSPECT — Federal prosecutors have taken over a case involving a former Prospect soccer coach who is accused of sexually assaulting a young girl over several years.
Dennis A. Szantyr Jr., 47, of Prospect, pleaded guilty in federal court in Hartford on Monday to one count of enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 2, 2022 and faces a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison and a maximum term of imprisonment of life.
Szantyr has been held on $300,000 since his arrest by state police on Oct. 31, 2019. He was charged by state police with second-degree harassment, first- and second-degree sexual assault, strangulation and risk of injury to a minor.
State’s Attorney Maureen T. Platt said in these types of cases, there are discussions between her office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office on who could best handle the case.
Federal prosecutors allege Szantyr used smart phones, tablets and other computer devices, and an interactive computer service, to entice the victim, who was under the age of 16, to engage in sexual acts.
Szantyr also took images and recorded video of his sexual contact with the victim.
“At times, including during the commission of the sexual acts between Szantyr and the minor victim, the victim was in the custody, care or supervision of Szantyr,” Leonard C Boyle, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, said in a news release.
Szantyr admitted to state police he had engaged in multiple sex acts with the young girl.
The girl told an examiner that she was struggling with mental health issues and that Szantyr gave her “special attention.”
They began to communicate on a daily basis and Szantyr pressured the girl to send naked photos of herself to him, which she sent to him through her cellphone and the social media app Snapchat, according to documents compiled by the state police.
In investigative documents, the girl told an examiner that Szantyr had forced her to perform a sex act in his basement, as well as multiple times in his car, a black Dodge Charger. The girl told police that Szantyr assaulted her at least a dozen times when they were alone at his home.
“The victim also stated Szantyr told her that he could sell her for sex and make a lot of money,” according to a state police report.
A family member of the girl told police their family had stopped associating with Szantyr due to his “creepy behavior,” which included an inappropriate comment about her legs, among other behavior.
Szantyr was listed on the website of the Prospect Soccer Club as a coach in 2017. The club’s president said in 2019 that Szantyr has not coached since the club’s season ended in June 2018.