Former volunteer firefighter faces child-abuse charges

John P. Corcoran, 20, is escorted out of the Delaware County Courthouse in Media, PA to a waiting police car. (Alejandro A. Alvarez/Staff Photographer)

Prosecutors called the former firefighter the Pied Piper of his neighborhood, for the trail of children constantly following him.

John Corcoran, 20, of Glenolden, bought the kids McDonald's meals and toys, let them use his hot tub, and took them swimming.

But according to investigators, Corcoran was a serial child abuser. Pornography charges lodged against him in a recently unsealed federal indictment carry a maximum jail term of 610 years. In addition, he has been charged in two related Delaware County Court cases with sexual abuse of children and arson.

In the latter case, in August, Corcoran, then a volunteer firefighter with Goodwill Fire Company No. 1 in Darby Township, was accused of trying to burn down three vacant houses. He told police he responded to help fight two of the blazes.

While investigating the arsons, detectives interviewed a 12-year-old boy who told them Corcoran gave him "sexually explicit materials," and bribed him and other boys with the promise of toy cars and money to engage in sexual acts, according to court documents.

While out on bail on the arson charges, prosecutors said, Corcoran continued to abuse children.

Corcoran's attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

In January, he was charged with multiple counts of rape, sexual assault, indecent exposure, possessing child pornography, and related crimes in alleged assaults on children.

According to court documents, Corcoran sexually abused children at his home, in a YMCA locker room, and at an Upper Darby Township historical site from December 2012 to December 2014. Corcoran, who is single, lived with his parents.

While mostly involved with boys, Corcoran also befriended a 19-year-old woman with intellectual disabilities, coerced her to take her clothes off, and photographed her, according to court documents. He allegedly showed those images to other victims to entice them into sexual acts.

A preliminary hearing on those charges had been scheduled for Wednesday but was continued, and court actions on the two county cases likely will not resume until after the federal case is closed, said Michael Galantino, deputy district attorney.

In a 21-count federal indictment unsealed two weeks ago, Corcoran was charged with manufacturing and possessing child pornography. He has been transferred to federal custody.

About 25 victims, from age 5 to 15, were abused by Corcoran, prosecutors said. Of those, 11 were recorded on video.

Galantino said some of the victims might have been unaware they were being taped.

Corcoran induced the children to perform sex acts on him or with each other, investigators aside.

He filmed random boys at the Ridley YMCA, and according to court documents, in one video Corcoran talked with the father of a boy while surreptitiously recording the boy as he undressed.