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Judge lets child porn collector avoid prison, conviction - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Judge lets child porn collector avoid prison, conviction

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Courtesy Click2Houston

A judge has allowed an admitted child pornography collector to avoid prison time and potentially keep the conviction off his record in a move that surprised prosecutors.

"This suspect had some of the worst child porn images we've seen," Montgomery County prosecutor Warren Diepraam told Local 2 Investigative reporter Jace Larson.

Joshua Michael Long, 25, admitted to investigators after his arrest that he collected more than 300 images and videos of child porn.

WARNING: DESCRIPTIONS OF WHAT INVESTIGATORS SAY THEY FOUND ON LONG'S COMPUTERS MAY BE DISTURBING TO SOME READERS.

"They were children as young as 3 years old. In some of the videos a child was crying as they were being sexually assaulted by an adult," Diepraam said. "When you have young children that age who are crying as horrible things are being done to them, it just breaks your heart. It really makes you mad."

Long pleaded guilty to four counts of possession of child pornography, a Class 3 felony. Prosecutors asked that a judge sentence Long to prison time.

His defense attorney, Jarrod Walker, asked for probation, citing Long's lack of criminal history, age and the fact he had been following the rules for nearly a year since his arrest.

In a move that prosecutors didn't expect, Judge Kelly Case gave Long a deferred adjudication sentence that requires him to be closely monitored for 10 years but does not require a conviction on Long's record if he follows the law and the conditions of his probation for the next 10 years.

"If he's successful, he doesn't have to tell anybody that he was convicted of child pornography," Diepraam said.

However, Long will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

In court, the judge described deferred adjudication as a double-edged sword.

"There is a good side for people that can comply with conditions," Case said during sentencing. "It keeps a felony conviction off your record. And this type of case, this is extremely important. The bad side is the full range of punishment is available to me if you do step out of line. (You could) do nine years, 11 months and 29 days, and if the state gets the motion filed on a violation on the last day, you could still go to prison for up to 10 years. So, I mean, it's a big hammer."

The sentence is within guidelines set forth by the Texas legislature, Local 2 Legal Analyst Brian Wice said.

Long's defense attorney said he was not surprised by the sentence.

"When a person is on probation or deferred adjudication, they are watched. This isn't, 'Go home and behave yourself.' It means showing up. It means registering as a sex offender. It means counseling," Walker said.

SUSPECT'S CONFESSION

In a taped confrontation with investigators after his arrest, Long said he was curious about child porn.

"I think it is wrong and messed up. That's what does it for me," Long said "The thought of being caught is kind of a turn on."

He admitted to being sexually aroused.

"Afterwards I always felt guilty and dirty," Long said.

He claimed to not be interested in very young kids.

"Younger doesn't really do anything for me. Ironically, that's a little too sick for me," he said.

DEFERRED ADJUDICATION FREQUENCY

In the past year, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office has closed 20 cases against defendants charged with possession of child pornography or promotion of child pornography. Fourteen received prison sentences; one case was dismissed because federal charges were filed and the defendant received federal prison time. Two defendants -- one of them Long -- received deferred adjudications.

In Fort Bend County, three defendants got prison time for possessing child pornography in the last three years; four received deferred adjudication.

In Harris County, the district attorney said so far this year, 26 cases have resulted in prison time and 11 cases ended with a sentence of deferred adjudication.

CURE FOR CHILD PORN COLLECTORS

A child therapist at the Children's Assessment Center in Houston said people view child porn because they have a "deviant sexual attraction to children."

Diane Vines said there is no cure for child porn addicts.

"Some can learn to control that impulse problem with therapy and with a sponsor, kind of like Alcoholics-Anonymous," Vines said.

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