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Child porn charges dropped against Hoonah man

Posted: February 16, 2012 - 1:12am

Prosecutors this week dismissed 10 felony charges leveled against an 18-year-old Hoonah man for “sexting” with his then-17-year-old girlfriend.

District Attorney David Brower confirmed on Wednesday that the eight counts of possession and two counts of distribution of child pornography were dropped on Monday or Tuesday.

“Upon further review, it didn’t meet the statutory requirements for child pornography,” Brower said in an interview.

The charges against Greggory C. Wright originated from a felony complaint filed by a Hoonah police officer. According to the complaint, a police investigation found that Wright received “pornographic” text messages on his cell phone in December from his ex-girlfriend when she was a minor. He then forwarded some of the pictures along to another person after they had broken up, according to charging documents.

Hoonah Police Department forwarded the charges to the district attorney’s office to prosecute.

Distribution and possession of child pornography are both felony offenses that can carry a sentence of up to 99 years in prison. The presumptive sentencing range for distribution is five to 15 years for first-time offenders and two to 12 years for possession.

Both Brower and Wright’s lawyer Thomas Collins said this is the first so-called sexting case in Southeast Alaska that has come into their purview.

Collins said he was pleased the charges were dropped, especially since, “I think the statute is aimed at what I would consider sick individuals, not teenagers,” he said.

Wright was not charged under a new statute, passed by the Legislature in July of last year, that makes sexting with a minor a criminal misdemeanor offense. That statute prohibits “sending an explicit image of a minor” with the intent to “annoy or humiliate another person.”

Instead, the police recommended Wright be charged with harsher felony child pornography charges, which Collins said didn’t fit this case.

“The statute wasn’t made for this particular factual situation,” Collins said. “Obviously the child pornography deals with probably much younger children and what I would consider sick behavior.”

Wright and the woman, who is now 18, are eight months apart in age. The complaint specifies Wright told police they had dated for a period of time, but broke off the relationship because she was a minor.

“Whether charges should be brought at all is the question,” Collins said, adding another issue is whether the texts could be considered “lewd” in nature. “But as far as the existing (law), this is a national issue from my research because Mr. Wright isn’t the only young man that’s been put in that situation. But under Alaska law, I think it was a proper move to dismiss the charges.”

Brower said it’s a possibility for related charges to be brought in the case, but “at this point in time, the charges are dropped.”

Wright had pleaded not guilty to the charges in court earlier this month.

He remains in custody pending another criminal case.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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