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Former PA Turnpike official dealing with child pornography charge

A former Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission engineer is facing a mandatory sentence for child pornography after being found guilty of "sexting" to teenage girls. His defense attorney claims that these are false charges for a man who is an upstanding member of society and is devoted to his family. He said that the defendant was simply playing a "cat and mouse" game and did not mean any harm.

The defense attorney is trying to fight mandatory sentencing guidelines of 15 years to life for child pornography because his client was not aware that the girls he contacted through a 21-year-old relative's discarded cellphone were minors. Furthermore, these photos had already been shared by the girls, their boyfriends and others.

Even a psychiatrist who reviewed the case felt that the former engineer had not sought out child pornography. The psychiatrist noted that the man really was just playing a game of deception and intrigue with others who he thought were consenting adults. No child pornography had been linked to this man other than the photos traced to the cellphone.

According to the prosecuting attorney, the man should be sentenced to life in prison for the charges because he targeted minors for naked photos. The prosecutor also claims that when the man accessed the girls' Facebook pages, he should have known that they were teenagers. Furthermore, the prosecutor states that although the man listened to his relative's complaints as she threatened suicide, he was secretly tormenting her at the same time.

The burden of proof rested on the prosecuting attorney and the judge sided with him. This case will continue to be watched for the questions it raises about intent, and for sentencing a man for something that he was not aware he was doing.

Source: The York Daily Record, "Feds: Pa. sexter's cat-and-mouse claim insulting," Joe Mandak, July 9, 2012

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