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Wallington Man Could Be Free Soon In DWI Crash, Sex With Drunken Woman

Harry Halvorsen III
Harry Halvorsen III Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia
Defense attorney Vincent Basile, Harry Halvorsen III
Defense attorney Vincent Basile, Harry Halvorsen III Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia
Harry Halvorsen III
Harry Halvorsen III Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia

WALLINGTON, N.J. -- A Wallington man who had sex with an intoxicated Lyndhurst woman before crashing his car into one driven by another drunk driver on Route 80 in Elmwood Park was sentenced to two five-year terms in Hackensack on Friday.

Harry Halvorsen III gets to serve both at the same time and is eligible for parole in 21 months, under a plea deal.

Halvorsen also gets credit for 601 days already spent in jail -- meaning he could be freed soon. He'll be subject to lifetime Megan’s Law sex offender registration and parole supervision.

“Candidly, if I had better [evidence] I’d be asking for more time," Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Martin Delaney said. "A minute less than 5 years would not be justice.”

The drunken 25-year-old woman was in his back seat when Halvorsen's 1970 Mercury hit a 2000 Mitsubishi GS headed west in the highway's eastbound lanes the night of March 12, 2014.

The Mercury caught fire and three Garfield firefighters who live nearby came running -- Lt. Joseph Kopacz, his brother Nick and their father Keith, all of Fire Company #5.

Joseph Kopacz opened the passenger door and found the unconscious woman wedged under the dashboard.

As fellow firefighter Keith Kopacz tried to douse the raging blaze, his sons gently lifted her out. She went to Hackensack University Medical Center with serious injuries.

Detectives later re-arrested Halvorsen on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a victim who was physically incapacitated. He pleaded guilty Friday to reduced charges of aggravated sexual contact, as part of his deal with prosecutors.

“I can’t take anything back that I did,” Halvorsen said. “I know it was very childish. I apologize for taking the court’s time and I ask for leniency so I can be there for my kids.

“I feel like garbage not being able to be there for them.”

Defense attorney Vincent Basile said his client "used very poor judgment."

Halvorsen was sexually assaulted as a child and has had a rough life, he said, adding that state child welfare officials "are trying to terminate custody of his three children.”

Superior Court Judge James J. Guida, in turn, read from a report: “She was naked and took her clothes off and they started to have sex. Then he realized she was too drunk, so he stopped.”

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