Pornography expert witnesses help reduce sentence

In a recent case that was presented before the New York District Court, a sensible cooperation between Prosecutor, Defense and the Pornography/ Psychology Expert Witnesses saved an adolescent from serving a minimum prison sentence of five years.

Background of the case

While investigating on issues of child pornography, an agent from the US Department of Homeland Security identified the Defendant’s household internet protocol address as being actively involved in receiving and possessing content depicting child pornography. Following execution of a search warrant, a laptop computer and desktop computer admittedly belonging to the Defendant were seized and found to contain objectionable images and videos. Just days after his home was searched, the Defendant voluntarily sought assistance at the Krueger–Kaplan Behavioral Medicine Program in New York City. A criminal complaint was filed on the following year and the Defendant was arrested for violating 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252(a)(2) and 2252(b)(1).

Pornography expert witness determining effectiveness of sentence

Noting the importance of the wide breadth of information that a District Court must take into account while sentencing, the Court commented that evaluation of experts in the fields of psychology, well-trained on unique issues relevant to sex offenders, can be highly relevant in helping the court determine the effectiveness of a particular sentence.

Six psychology expert witnesses were called on board to testify in this case – three of them treating therapists who were directly involved with the treatment of the Defendant (Dr. Richard Krueger, Dr. Meg S. Kaplan and Dr. Douglas Martinez) while the rest (Dr. Cheryl Paridis, Dr. N. G. Berrill and Dr. Jennifer A. McCarthy) were unbiased non-treating experts. The reports and testimony of both the set of experts strongly supported the fact that the Defendant was capable of a useful and productive life if provided adequate treatment, supervision and control. In fact the experts unanimously concluded that both the society and the Defendant will be best served by a probationary sentence permitting him to continue the intensive outpatient treatment and monitoring that he currently received. They agreed that the Defendant was neither a pedophile nor a criminal risk to the society, and instead of a rigorous five years imprisonment that such crimes usually fetched, a sentence of five years probation with stringent conditions was more appropriate in this case.

The Ruling

Following an analysis of the Guidelines and the statutory criteria for sentencing under § 3553(a), a sentence of five years strictly supervised probation was imposed by the Court, with a view to provide Defendant an opportunity to succeed in therapy, at school, at attaining employment, and at becoming a functioning and law-abiding member of society. A sentence involving incarceration was considered and rejected.

Written for the web by the EWG Editorial Team

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One Response so far.

  1. drbaljit says:

    I am so glad to hear of this case. I significant part of my practice (forensic psychologist) involves working with these offenders. I have been retained on different cases as a treating psychologist and on other cases as a testifying expert. I am so glad to see the court beginning to recognize that possession of child pornography doesn’t always mean that the person is a dangerous child molester. A thorough dangerousness risk assessment is very useful to separate the high risk from low risk offenders. Thanks for an informative posting.