Among the various sex crimes against children, underage pornography possession seems at first to be one of the more innocuous because those who view it aren't physically harming children. But the penalties for this crime are still extremely serious, as a Wisconsin man discovered this week.
The 31-year-old Mauston resident was arrested Wednesday on charges of possession of underage pornography. But according to a criminal complaint, police had been investigating him since January, after an agent from the Division of Criminal Investigation of the Wisconsin Justice Department identified a computer that appeared to be participating in the sharing of online underage pornography; the agent then traced it back to the Mauston man, the complaint said.
The man was present when DCI agents raided his home. Although it's wise for those accused of a crime to avoid offering any incriminating information to authorities, when asked if he had touched any children, the man allegedly told the agents, "I never got to that level." His response may lead a judge to consider his risk of getting to that level, and affect his sentence if he's convicted. But his answer also raises the issue of whether underage pornography leads to more direct and serious crimes against children, or prevents those who would otherwise try to physically abuse children from acting on their impulses.
The man faces four counts of possession of underage pornography, with each count carrying a potential 25 years in prison. Although he may not have had direct contact with a child, his conviction could earn him just as much time as if he had.
Source: Juneau County Star Times, "Mauston man charged with child porn," Dec. 26, 2011