Shortly after Judge Thomas Howes passed sentence on John C. Adams, Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Brown was presented a plaque for his outstanding work in prosecuting the defendant. Presented by US Postal Inspection agent Paul Groza, Brown was lauded for "obtaining a conviction on the counts of an indictment charging Adams with Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse. This prosecution was the first in the State of Oregon related to the national undercover operation known as Operation Avalanche."
>Arrested as part of a nationwide sting operation, a local man charged with buying child pornographic images has been sentenced to 32 months in prison
Having thousands of images described as "kiddie porn" has earned a 51-year-old man 32 months in prison.
In September, John Charles Adams was arrested as one part of a nationwide sting operation. Called Operation Avalanche, and run by police officers in Texas, one tendril of the nationwide network of purveyors of kiddie porn led to Adams.
The sting involved having the Child Exploitation Department of the Dallas, Texas Police Department place phony advertisements on the Internet purporting to offer child pornography. From that, a data base of email addresses complete with buyer information and their individual purchase histories developed.
Carefully following state and federal laws, unsolicited material was offered for sale. One of those who responded to the unsolicited offer was later identified as John Adams who was taken into custody moments after picking up the video from a Bend post office. According to the police, he was arrested, sitting in his pickup with the video in his hands.
Officers, after obtaining a search warrant, found a CD with more than 15,000 images on it. From evidence found on Adams' computer hard drive and on the CD, 34 counts of crimes involving child pornography were filed against him. Adams was tried in circuit court in November and ended with the defendant being found guilty of 16 counts.
During Adam's sentencing hearing this week, Crook County's Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Brown recommended that he be given a prison sentence, one that exceeded normal sentencing guidelines. After hearing from a young woman who testified that when she was about seven year's old that Adams, then a friend of her parents, had fondled her, Brown called a federal postal inspector to the stand.
The number of images found in Adams' possession, Postal Inspector Paul Groza testified, was among the top three in total count of any offenders he had come across since 1998.
Adams' attorney, Hugh Duvall, had a roomful of supporters, all willing to tell Judge Thomas Howes that the defendant should be given probation and treatment. "Given probation," Duvall said, "he (Adams) would work and live under supervision and not cause problems for society."
Brown disagreed. The crimes that Adams was found guilty of, he pointed out, "are several distinct felonies. Children are the victims of these crimes," Brown explained.
The images found on Adams' computer hard drive, on a compact disc and the way he went about acquiring those images all constituted separate crimes. "There were different victims and separate images that show evidence of separate crimes," Brown told the judge. "These were aggravated crimes and a threat to the community. Adams is a pedophile and guilty of numerous criminal acts. He should be given prison and made to register as a sex offender."
Duvall disagreed. "The state is the victim," he averred. "Adams is guilty of purchasing and possessing material not protected by the Constitution. He is guilty and should be punished and he accepts that fact."
However, Duvall went on to tell the court, in similar cases the defendant is "almost always placed on probation and given community service to perform. Very few cases result in prison."
State statute on similar crimes is ambiguous, Duvall claimed. Adams crime was a single episode, building a collection of pornography. "How much longer will Mr. Adams be warehoused before being allowed treatment," the attorney asked?
Twelve days after his arrest, his attorney informed the court, Adams had contacted a Bend counselor and had begun treatment. "He recognized his need for treatment," Duvall said. "He can be safely treated in the community."
Given the opportunity to speak in his own behalf, Adams, tearfully, admitted to "having a serious problem. I need treatment, am desirous of treatment and want to continue with that treatment. It was a horrible crime," he added. "I did not believe I was causing harm to anyone. I know I was wrong and honestly repent that error."
Judge Howes listened, until the defendant said he "didn't know what was on the video" he had in his hands when arrested.
At that point the judge stopped Adams. "I can't let you get away with that," Howes said. "I don't want to repeat the title of that video in court, but from the title you can't help but know what you had ordered."
His supporters didn't know, the judge said, "what you were doing, but now your secret is out. Your emails were explicit and the information traded back and forth with the dealer in Texas on exactly what kind of video you wanted was clear. It is probably that the public will never know what kind of material that was."
The ages of the material protrude were very young, Howes went on to say, "Pre-pubescent." Another factor was the purchasing and possession of the images plus the persistent involvement, "it was not a one-time purchase but had been going on for a long period of time." All these factors were behind his decision to depart upward from the sentencing guidelines.
After handing down the 32 month sentence, with the maximum of 24 months post-prison supervision, Judge Howes wished Adams "good luck."
Paul Groza said after the hearing that, speaking for the US Postal Inspector's office, the sentence was significant. Until now, he explained, "sentencing in cases like this on a state to state basis is always higher that in federal court, which is always higher that in Oregon courts. Oregon has the lowest sentences of any. This same case across the river in the state of Washington would get the offender 10 years right off the top."
Adams' was remanded to custody and will be sent to Salem for processing.