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February 12, 2009

Another notable story of paralysis and prosecution for child porn

Regular readers may recall this post from December discussing a remarkable case from Buffalo in which federal prosecutors decided not to press charges against a quadriplegic who downloaded a lot of child porn.  Now this local story from Alabama, headlined "Judge delays sentencing in porn case involving paralyzed man," suggests that we may need to develop a jurisprudence of paralysis and porn.  Here are a few details from the article:

[A] federal judge in Mobile on Wednesday said she needs more information from prison officials before sentencing the man, who admitted to secretly videotaping young girls who used his bathroom. Under advisory sentencing guidelines, Robert Vezendy faces at least 14 years in prison on the charge he pleaded guilty to: receipt of child pornography.

But defense lawyer Dennis Knizley contended that anything longer than the five-year statutory minimum would be a "death sentence" for a 43-year-old man who has been paralyzed since an accident that occurred when he was 17....

Vezendy, seated in a wheelchair before the judge, apologized for downloading the child porn and making the secret videos. He said he never would have harmed the children, but offered little explanation for his conduct. "There's really no good reason why I made them," he said. "I have a lot of regret. I was just curious."

A doctor testified that Vezendy has no movement from about the middle of his back down. She said he has limited use of his hands and arms and can perform basic tasks, such as writing and eating, only with the assistance of special splints on his arms....

Susan Wardell, a mitigation and alternative sentencing specialist from Atlanta, testified that imprisoning Vezendy would be costly for the government as well as the defendant.  She said her inquiries to prison officials revealed that Vezendy would not be allowed to have his splints, which would render him virtually helpless.

Wardell said prison authorities also told her they do not have trained medical personnel who would be able to take care of him around the clock. Instead, she said, the responsibility would fall to fellow inmates.  "It's cruel and unusual punishment," she said. 

UPDATE:  Over at The Faculty Lounge here, Dan Filler has a number of interesting comments about these paralysis and porn cases.

February 12, 2009 at 10:59 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Cruel & Unusual indeed.

Posted by: Fred-Ex | Feb 12, 2009 4:16:30 PM

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