Internet user convicted for downloading child porn

A constitutional question over sex crimes was raised in Hood River Circuit Court on Nov. 21.

The defendant in an Internet child porn case contested his arrest for downloading material because he had no personal contact with the subjects.

But Shelley Webb, Hood River sex crimes prosecutor, said Patrick "Rick" Schultz, 38, definitely deserved to be charged with two counts of Encouraging Child Sex Abuse in the first degree because he was guilty of duplicating the illegal material.

"Our job is to protect children and we take that very seriously," said Webb. "If we find out that anyone is sexually exploiting them, even if they don't have direct physical contact, we will seek a prosecution."

However, Marc Geller, Schultz's attorney, told Judge Donald Hull on Nov. 21 that his client did not personally videotape or engage in sexually acts with minors. He argued that it would be "cruel and unusual" punishment to label Schultz as an abuser when he had just accessed material "floating all around in cyberspace."

"He's essentially suffering the same penalties these folks (child porn web masters) do simply for clicking a mouse," said Geller.

That argument drew a quick rebuttal from Webb.

"He might not be creating or putting it on the web but he's certainly encouraging that industry," she said.

Webb also reminded Hull that Schultz was facing much lesser penalties than the 70-month prison sentence that could be imposed for sodomy or other criminal contact with children. She then reiterated that 72 pictures of underage girls engaged in various sexual acts with adult men had been found on the hard drive of Schultz' computer by Oregon State Police forensic experts.

"This is not just an innocent peep show thing, this is an ongoing behavior, for over a year these pictures were downloaded," she said.

Schultz told the court he wasn't aware that he had committed a crime at the time he stored the pictures and didn't condone that type of material -- questioning why porn websites were even allowed to exist.

"I was going through a phase where I was depressed and really self-destructive," he said. "I don't want anyone to think that I was into that stuff."

But that was the clear impression received by the Cascade Locks computer repairman who called police to report the child pornography in December of 2000. Schultz told law enforcement officials, said Webb, that he had left the terminal at the shop because he was worried it was being accessed by "hackers." She said the repairman was checking out the system when he discovered the explicit photos that he found "so disgusting that he vomited."

When deputies recognized that the subjects of the pornography were underage females, some less than 12 years of age, Webb said they received a search warrant for Schultz' residence on AGA Road and the hard drive of his computer.

Shortly after his home was searched, Webb said Schultz left abruptly for Wisconsin and was there for the next several months, before he was located, arrested, and extradited.

Schultz told Hull he was not running from the law by leaving the state, but went to Wisconsin for a new job and a chance to get life on a better track.

But Hull apparently was not buying the arguments about the innocence of Schultz' computer actions.

"I mean, come on, you may not condone it, that's what you tell me, but it takes a couple of deliberate acts to get into it and you did it," said Hull.

Believing it was better to get Schultz into treatment than to send him to prison, Hull ordered him to spend 90 days in jail (30 credited for time already served) and three years on probation. Schultz was also directed to have a mental health evaluation and forbidden to have contact with any minors -- including his own three children for at least the immediate future.

The $3,000 cash bail posted at the time of his arrest was seized to cover $800 of extradition costs, $400 in court fines and fees and the remaining $1,800 split between his two ex-wives for back child support. Each year, within 10 days of his birthday, Schultz will be required to re-register as a sex offender with law enforcement officials within his hometown. He will also be required to report any change of address and must gain permission to move out of state. If he fails to comply with any of those conditions, he faces both monetary fines and jail time.

Geller said by pleading guilty but contesting the charges, Schultz has left open his right to challenge the law itself.

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