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Justice: Man sentenced in child porn case

| September 5, 2012 at 02:09 pm

COLUMBUS, Miss. — A Lowndes County judge has sentenced 59-year-old Robert Triplett to 40 years in prison on state charges of possession of child pornography.

Circuit Judge Lee Coleman on Tuesday ordered that the sentence run consecutive to a 10-year attempted aggravated assault sentence Triplett already is serving from Jackson County, Miss., and a 10-year federal child porn conviction.

Triplett was sentenced as a habitual offender.

Prosecutors say Triplett was arrested after investigators found explicit photos of minor children on a computer obtained from his home. The computer was examined during an investigation into the September 2009 disappearance of Triplett’s 21-year-old stepdaughter, Kaila Morris.

Authorities say Morris has not been found.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/09/05/4790236/man-sentenced-in-child-porn-case.html#storylink=cpy

Judge says sexting teens should not be charged under child porn laws

| September 3, 2012 at 04:10 pm

By Gina Passarella / The Legal Intelligencer

Taking issue with the recent uptick in law enforcement agencies’ use of child pornography laws to prosecute teens who “sext,” a Lehigh County judge said likening sexting to child pornography is “an overreaction by law enforcement.”

Lehigh County Common Pleas Judge Robert L. Steinberg threw out the charges of sexual abuse of children filed against teen “C.S.,” who posted a video on her Facebook page of two other teens engaged in a consensual sexual act.

While law enforcement action may sometimes be necessary, Judge Steinberg called the use of child pornography statutes in sexting cases a “round hole/square peg approach.”

“Those who are adjudicated or convicted of child pornography offenses are sexual offenders and often predators,” he said. “Teenagers who engage in sexting should not face the same legal and moral conundrum.”

He said sexting, which he called part of the “world of the new-millennium teen,” should be addressed by the Legislature. Bills are pending in Pennsylvania to designate sexting and cyberbullying as misdemeanors and not the felonies with which the state was seeking to charge C.S., he said.

Judge Steinberg found the charges against C.S., as they were applied to her, “void for vagueness.”

“The juvenile, C.S., has been charged with crimes that could be interpreted as those committed by a deviant sexual offender. What heinous acts has she allegedly committed: the posting to her Facebook page of the consensual sexual acts of L.C. and M.T., who are ages 16 and 17,” the judge said.

According to the judge’s opinion, L.C. agreed to allow M.T. to record their sexual encounter. M.T. later texted his recording to others, including C.S. C.S. later posted the video to her Facebook page and the comments on her page suggest the purpose was not sexual, but rather to subject L.C. to public criticism, Judge Steinberg said.

Many teens engage in sexting, he said, and the response by law enforcement has included efforts to delete the images, recommend participation in educational programs and, more frequently, prosecute under child pornography laws. While child pornography creates a permanent record of child abuse that results in continuing exploitation, sexting usually involves consensual acts. He said teenagers sext for reasons unrelated to the exploitation or abuse of children.
Gina Passarella: gpassarella@alm.com or 215-557-2494. To read more articles like this, visit www.thelegalintelligencer.com.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/legal/judge-says-sexting-teens-should-not-be-charged-under-child-porn-laws-651635/#ixzz25dEaLADJ

Judge overrules motion in child porn case

| August 31, 2012 at 11:25 am

It was supposed to be a sentencing hearing for a man who pled guilty to possessing child pornography in one case and was convicted of two counts of transmitting or reproducing it in another. But it turned into a hearing on the defense’s motion to set aside the jury’s verdict in the second case.

A court-requested psychosexual evaluation for Rodolphe Charles DeSeife, 53, of Danville was not complete, so Danville Circuit Court Judge Joseph Milam delayed the sentencing hearing for both cases Wednesday morning.

DeSeife’s attorney, Glenn Berger, asked the court Wednesday to set aside the jury’s July verdict finding DeSeife guilty of two counts of reproducing, transmitting or selling child pornography. The jury had sentenced him to 10 years in prison in July for those two counts.

In a separate case, DeSeife pled guilty in July to 36 counts of child pornography possession and no contest to 42 counts of possession of child pornography, with the latter including 13 counts of attempted possession. He faces up to five years for each count.

Berger argued Wednesday there was no evidence DeSeife actively sent out child pornography to anyone from his computer. Instead, that information was obtained by police, and that does not constitute reproduction on DeSeife’s part, Berger said.

There was no evidence of an “active act” by the defendant that constituted reproduction, transmission or giving out child pornography, Berger argued.

A search warrant had been served at DeSeife’s home in December 2011 after the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force at the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office obtained information that a possible offender was living in Danville.

The previous November, Bedford County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Stephen Anders, who was on the task force, became aware of an internet protocol address linked to a computer in Danville that was using a peer-to-peer network to download child pornography. The address was later confirmed to be DeSeife’s.

Anders found more than 100 files containing child pornography when he first accessed a shared folder on the computer through a similar network developed for law enforcement use. He found three or four the second time but more than 200 the third time — just before DeSeife’s arrest.

After contacting the Danville Police Department, a search warrant was executed at DeSeife’s home in December, where Anders and Danville Police Detective Jeremy Williams sized VHS tapes, optical drives, printed pictures of children, computers and more than 100 floppy disks.

During Wednesday’s hearing on the defense’s motion, Milam asked Berger whether DeSeife’s actions were similar to someone erecting a tower and broadcasting on a radio or television and the police seeing or hearing it. Isn’t that transmitting something, and isn’t that analogous to this type of software on the Internet, Milam asked.

Having the material on one’s computer is not the same as broadcasting, Berger replied. But the sharing program is a form of transmission and once files are downloaded or made part of a program like the one used by DeSeife, anyone can access it, Milam said. The defendant wouldn’t have to necessarily do anything, Milam said.

Berger countered if DeSeife had been charged with possession with intent to distribute, the prosecution would have had a case. DeSeife’s acts were not criminal acts because the actions were carried out by the police, not DeSeife, Berger said. He did not transmit the material to them, Berger said.

Danville Assistant Commonwealth Attorney M. Coleman Adams said DeSeife downloaded the program, installed it and set the sharing levels on his file. He knew they were being shared and he didn’t completely restrict them, Adams said.

DeSeife’s actions were like those of a gas station without attendants where anyone can pull up and pump gas into their vehicles, Adams said. DeSeife’s actions constituted distribution, Adams said, pointing out the jury found DeSeife guilty after hearing the same arguments.

Milam said the defendant indicated he knew others could download from his sharing software and overruled the defense’s motion. Milam also revoked DeSeife’s $100,000 bail, after a request from Adams.

Staff writer Allison Roberts contributed to this story.

Sex offender pleads guilty to raping Prairie High classmate

| August 27, 2012 at 10:44 am

A registered sex offender accused of having sexual contact with a 14-year-old Prairie High School classmate has pleaded guilty to third-degree rape of a child.

Jeremiah C. Thompson, 19, entered his plea before Clark County Superior Court Judge Diane Woolard on Aug. 8.

He will be sentenced Sept. 7 and faces between 12 and 14 months in prison.

Thompson was arrested after the girl told deputies that Thompson took her to his house on April 12 and had sexual intercourse with her. They’d met at a WinCo Foods store close to their school. (more…)

Minn. St.-Mankato football coach charged in child porn case

| August 21, 2012 at 07:17 pm

MANKATO — The head football coach at Minnesota State, Mankato, was charged Wednesday with two counts related to child pornography after authorities said they found nude images of children on his cellphone.

Todd Hoffner, 46, of Eagle Lake, was charged with one count of using minors in a sexual performance or pornographic work, and one count of possessing child pornography. Both are felonies.

Police began investigating last week after a university official went to them with three videos of children that were said to be on Hoffner’s work-issued cellphone, according to the complaint filed in the case.

Hoffner’s attorney, Jim Fleming, said his client intends to fight the charges and will be pleading not guilty at a later date. He had no further comment.

The complaint said Hoffner brought his university-issued cellphone to school officials earlier this month because it wasn’t working properly. Hoffner was given a new one, and was told technicians would retrieve videos and pictures from his old phone for him.

A technician came across the videos while going through the data, and police were contacted.

Hoffner is on leave and a university investigation is pending.

Bail was set at $10,000 with conditions at a Wednesday afternoon hearing. Fleming said Hoffner was expected to post bail.

Hoffner is entering his fifth year as Minnesota State, Mankato’s head football coach. He led the team to the playoffs in 2008 and 2009, and a share of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference title in 2011.

He has a 34-13 record at Minnesota State, Mankato, and was named NSIC coach of the year in 2009.

Texas airline exec found guilty in child porn case

| May 29, 2012 at 08:10 am

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Jurors convicted the founder of a Texas cargo airline on child pornography charges Monday, siding with prosecutors who said he had explicit online chats with undercover officers posing as young teenage girls and collected numerous illegal images.

Robert L. Hedrick, who founded Pan American Airways, was found guilty of distribution and possession of child pornography, transfer of obscene materials to a minor, and attempted sexual exploitation of children. He spoke quietly with his lawyers after the verdict was read, but otherwise showed no reaction. (more…)

Washington: accused pedophile allowed to watch sex-video evidence

| July 14, 2011 at 08:04 am

PedophileBecause he is acting as his own lawyer and may see the evidence, an accused pedophile in Washington state is being allowed to watch child pornography, including videos of him allegedly having sex with young boys, according to news reports.

Weldon Marc Gilbert, a millionaire and former commercial pilot arrested in November 2007, has unlimited access to the 28 hours of footage on more than 100 DVDs seized by police, KOMO-TV reported. He is in the Pierce County Jail in Tacoma awaiting trial. But he won’t be alone while watching the evidence, KIRO-TV points out. An investigator will be in the room. (more…)

US probes underreporting of child abuse deaths

| July 13, 2011 at 09:06 am

Movimiento contra el Abuso sexual_1742 WASHINGTON— Two years ago, a 13-year-old American boy from Indiana, Christian Choate, died after years of abuse, allegedly at the hands of his father, that authorities discovered only after it was too late.

“After his death, police found letters he had written about how he wondered when anyone would check on him or give him any food or water,” US Congressman Geoff Davis said Tuesday as he convened a hearing on Capitol Hill into the under-reporting of deaths of US children from abuse and neglect.

“It is hard to know which child deaths are more tragic — those we know about, or those we do not. (more…)

Pennsylvania to be third state with dedicated sex offender court

| May 9, 2011 at 08:07 pm

(Reuters) – Pennsylvania next month will become the third state in the nation with a court dedicated to bringing sex offenders to justice.

In an effort to stop repeat offenders, particularly those who target children, a pilot program will open June 23 in Allegheny County, according to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. After a year, if deemed effective, it may be expanded statewide.

Judges hope that channeling sex abuse cases through a specialized court will speed up the process so that “victims and witnesses don’t have to wait before getting their day in court,” said Steve Schell, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. (more…)

Forreston man arrested in sex abuse case

| at 08:02 pm

Forreston, Ill. —

The search for a Forreston man suspected of criminal sexual assault by Forreston police and the Ogle County Sheriff’s Department concluded after John H. Vaultonburg, 22, was apprehended on April 28.

Ogle County sheriff’s deputies arrested Vaultonburg at his residence in rural Forreston on April 28, just over a week after the public was notified that he had gone missing. (more…)