For the first time, a man is speaking publicly about what he calls more than a decade of sexual torture at the hands of two former Connecticut firefighters.
Jeff Wyman, of Vermont, said he was in sixth grade when he met former West Haven firefighter Brett Bartolotta. Wyman's love of bikes was an opportunity for Bartolotta, who offered to sell him a dirt bike to get close to him.
Wyman said he didn't have any money to pay for it, so Bartolotta offered him another way to pay for it.
"'If you just come over a few times a week, and you know, do this. Then you won’t have to pay for the bike,'" Wyman recalled. "This is the first time that he molested me."
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Wyman said his family had no idea that during his weekly visits to Bartolottas' home, the teenager was paying for his new bike with sex, and later being paid cash for sex.
"I saw my friends going around making $7 an hour and I could go and do this and I would get $100," he explained.
Wyman said about a year into the relationship, Bartolotta decided to share him with fellow West Haven firefighter Frank Meyer, who also paid Wyman for sex.
"They kind of just recycled me in between each other," Wyman said.
He said Meyer would travel from West Haven to Vermont, where Wyman lived, on weekends for the sexual trysts, and that the two worked together to make sure they didn’t get caught.
"They would have code words to make sure like my parents weren’t around and my brothers weren’t around. They would ask me a certain question like, 'How is the weather?'" explained Wyman. "I was supposed to reply with an answer, 'It’s sunny,' meaning it was good."
Wyman's mother told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters she had no clue that who she thought was a trusted father figure would later be named her son’s sex partner and pimp.
According to Wyman, the relationship among the three lasted over a decade. But at 25 years old, Wyman decided to come forward to his family, then to police, with details about what had been happening.
Bartolotta and Meyer went from esteemed firefighters and mentors in the West Haven Firefighters Explorers Program, to accused sexual predators. The scandal would be too much for Meyer to handle. According to police, he killed himself shortly after the allegations were made public.
"He didn’t care what he did to me or my family," said Wyman, fighting back tears. "He cared that he got caught."
Wyman agreed to wear a wire for police while talking to Meyer about sex when he was underage. Prosecutor Michael Kainen had bet on that recorded conversation to help him win a conviction, but there was one problem.
"I couldn’t use the information coming from Frank in Brett’s trial because Frank was dead," explained Kainen.
Instead of a conviction, Wyman and his family would have to settle for a plea agreement.
"It was inhuman and I have no faith in the justice system anymore," said Wyman.
Kainen called it "a compromise."
Bartolotta was sentenced to 8 to 10 years in prison, with all but six months of it suspended. Original charges of slave trafficking and sexual assault, which would have carried sentences of 20 years to life in prison, were reduced to aggravated assault and performing a lewd act.
"Unfortunately, Mr. Wyman didn’t come forward until after he was 24," said Kainen.
The statute of limitations had run out by one year.
"I have no justice," said Wyman. "And he doesn’t have to register as a sex offender, which is my biggest fear."
Bartolotta didn’t confirm Wyman's account of being hung, tied up and forced to endure painful sex acts as a teenage boy. But he did offer an apology to Wyman in court.
"I just wanted to say sorry, Jeff. I hope you can get through this," Bartolotta said during their final meeting in court.
Bartolotta’s attorney offered a statement on his behalf, saying, "Mr. Bartolotta has taken accountability for his mistakes and is looking forward to moving on with his life."
"Oh, this messed this kid up," said Kainen. "I mean, he is messed up for life."
Kainen also said part of the reason he agreed to give Bartolotta a plea agreement was that Wyman's memory could not be relied on because so many years had passed. He encouraged others who may be victims of sex abuse to come forward sooner rather later.
Although Bartolotta’s sentence was much less than Wyman had expected, he doesn’t regret coming forward.
"It takes courage, but anybody who has been touched or molested or raped needs to come forward and tell somebody," Wyman said.
Bartolotta has to undergo sex offender treatment and cannot be around children, other than his own child, for eight years.