One acquitted, one sentenced in child porn cases

Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2003

KETCHIKAN - A Superior Court jury on Friday acquitted a Ketchikan man of child pornography charges. In a separate case, another Ketchikan man was sentenced to six months in prison and fined $1,000 for possession of child pornography.

A jury of seven men and five women acquitted Patrick J. Durkin, 43, after deliberating for about three hours. Durkin was charged in February with possessing child pornography. His trial began Jan. 7.

During closing arguments, the prosecution and defense agreed that eight images found in Durkin's computer were child pornography. They disagreed over whether the defendant knew those images were on his computer.

Assistant District Attorney James Scott said that under the legal definition of the crime, Durkin knew his computer contained child pornography.

Durkin admitted to investigators that he regularly downloaded legal adult pornography onto his computer, said Scott, and images of child pornography often were included in large groups of photographs. Prosecutors said Durkin told police they might therefore find child pornography on the hard drive of his computer.

Scott said because Durkin was aware of the "substantial probability" that child pornography existed in his computer, the law states the defendant knowingly possessed that illegal material.

Defense attorney Louis Menendez said the initial search warrant to obtain access to Durkin's computer was obtained when a former co-worker at Ketchikan Public Utilities told police he had observed child pornography on Durkin's laptop computer. Police later learned the pornographic movie on the laptop actually depicted a teenager whose age was unknown, said Menendez.

Durkin told police that whenever he downloaded pornography, he always deleted any pictures depicting children, said Menendez. Durkin also would have deleted the eight pictures police found, he said, but had not gotten to it before police confiscated his computer.

Menendez said police took more than a year to go through the thousands of images on Durkin's hard drive, floppy discs and compact discs and found only eight illegal pictures. If police took more than a year to find those pictures, he said, it also would have taken Durkin a while to find and delete them.

Menendez said the case does not involve a victim who came to the police with a complaint.

"This is a case about a computer screen," he said.

Durkin was charged at the same time as Lonnie Dunkin, 47, also a former KPU employee. Dunkin pleaded no contest in November to one count of possessing child pornography.

Ketchikan Superior Court Judge Trevor Stephens sentenced Dunkin to two years in jail, with all but six months suspended, and fined him $1,000. He ordered Dunkin to undergo sex-offender treatment in jail and after release from custody, and to register as a sex offender.

Dunkin's attorney, Thomas Nave, said Dunkin was interested in the completely legal activity of collecting adult pornography but was negligent in his filtering methods.

Nave said the number of child porn images was tiny compared to the adult material found on Dunkin's zip disks and CD media. A disk containing 7,200 pornographic images contained 12 involving children, he said.

Judge Stephens, however, said he was satisfied from the evidence that Dunkin knowingly collected child pornography and that probably he deliberately distributed some of it. In searching Dunkin's computer, police had found a 1998 e-mail message from the defendant that contained 28 pornographic images, said Stephens. Of those, 21 were of children, the judge said.

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