NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A convicted sex offender serving 19 years for traveling to Thailand and molesting young boys is among inmates seeking early release from a New Jersey prison that has experienced a COVID-19 outbreak.
In recent court filings, Wayne Nelson Corliss has said his health is in danger at the federal prison at Fort Dix because he suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. The facility had reported 255 cases through Wednesday, the most of any federal prison in the country according to data on the Bureau of Prisons website.
“It is clear that Mr. Corliss is in grave danger at Fort Dix and that the COVID-19 outbreak at the BOP, coupled with his medical risks, are exceptional and compelling circumstances warranting compassionate release or home confinement in this case,” Corliss's attorney wrote in a filing this week.
Corliss, 71, currently is scheduled to be released in 2025. Messages were left Friday with his attorney and with the U.S. attorney's office in Newark, which prosecuted him initially and is expected to file a response in coming days or weeks to his petition for early release.
He was a small-time actor known for entertaining at children's parties, including playing Santa Claus, when he was arrested in 2008 after an international manhunt involving Interpol. The agency took the rare step of asking for the public’s help in identifying a man shown in pornographic images. Hundreds of leads flooded in the first day, and eventually led to Corliss’ arrest at his Union City home in northern New Jersey.
Prosecutors said at the time that agents also found about 1,000 images of child pornography on computer hard drives in Corliss's apartment as well as several pairs of boys’ underwear, including one Corliss allegedly told authorities he brought back from Thailand as a souvenir.
Corliss admitted traveling to Thailand three times between 2000 and 2002 to have sex with at least two boys, ages 6 and 9. He pleaded guilty to five counts that included distribution and possession of child pornography and traveling to foreign countries to engage in illegal sexual activity.
At his sentencing, the judge called the case the most disturbing he had come across in 25 years.
At least three other men were sent to prison in the case, including a Canada native, John Wrenshall, who admitted setting up the liaisons.