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October 20, 2009

Federal sentence for receiving child porn includes forfeiture of home

This local article from Kentucky, which is headlined "Lexington man sentenced to 15 years, forfeits home in child the sentencing of a child porn case. Here are the details:

A Lexington man must spend more than 15 years in prison and forfeit his Chevy Chase home after pleading guilty to child pornography charges, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Joseph Robert Leitner, 62, pleaded guilty in June to one charge of receiving child pornography.  He admitted collecting child pornography for years and had computers and CDs that contained more than 30,000 images of child pornography, some involving children as young as 6, according to his plea agreement.  There were approximately 100 CDs and several computers seized during the search of Leitner's residence in June 2008.

Senior Judge Karl S. Forester sentenced Leitner Tuesday to 188 months in prison.  The federal government will also seize Leitner's home at 417 Cochran Road because of the high volume of images and the length of time Leitner used his home to download and view child pornography.

Leitner is the first defendant to forfeit his home because of a child pornography conviction in the Eastern District of Kentucky, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Assistant U.S. Attorney Hydee R. Hawkins, who prosecuted Leitner, said the sentence sends a message to child predators that "we are going to take the very place you used to exploit children."

Leitner said during sentencing that he had not downloaded or watched child pornography since 2000. "They probably were dusty as the devil when you guys found them," Leitner said of the CDs seized from his home. "I hadn't watched them in years."...

A man who said he was molested by Leitner more than 50 years ago also testified during Tuesday's sentencing.  Another man said testified that Leitner molested him for six years, beginning when he was 3.

October 20, 2009 at 06:12 PM | Permalink


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Hopefully, this won't be done where there's an innocent spouse or children.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 20, 2009 6:23:21 PM

A fine is one thing, but as a forfeiture this makes no sense. Seize the computer and CDs perhaps, but not the house. Is a house forfeitable in every conspiracy cases because conspiratorial thoughts happened there?

The defendant may die before he gets out, but depriving his heirs, who quite likely were molested themselves, makes no sense. It isn't at all clear that the alleged victims of molestation who testified at sentencing and seem to have motivated a severe penalty in this case (which seems to have circumvented a blown statute of limitation for the real motive for the prosecution) have any rightful claim to forfeiture proceeds, so this is the functional equivalent of a fine.

Putting someone away for fifteen years when they are 62 years old and seizing their house for possession of child pornography that hasn't been viewed in nine years is gross overkill.

Posted by: ohwilleke | Oct 20, 2009 6:47:49 PM

We may be missing a few facts. For example, the porn may be a pretext, and the real offense is to have victimized hundreds of kids over the decades. Not worth hunting down, but likely given the hint in the article about a prior victim.

But this scenario brings up a hypothetical I proposed before. The child porn in the collection is obviously made in the 1930's. How does its possession and payment for it promote child abuse today? And why does not adult porn not promote prostitution today?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 21, 2009 1:22:52 AM

Wait a second - the defendant is 62 and they have someone claiming that he molested him over 50 years ago. So they are not only using uncharged conduct well past its statute of limitations, but they are also used uncharged conduct from when the defendant was at most 12?

And this is pure rent seeking by the US Attorney's office (where were you to miss that one Supremacy Claus?)

Posted by: virginia | Oct 21, 2009 5:31:07 PM

Virginia: I have more confidence in the prosecution. Perhaps it is misplaced. I hope these antics represent pretexts to put a bad predator away for his hundreds of victims, but seeking to avoid embarrassing testimony, and a notorious circus in court. I hope this is like charging serial murderer Al Capone with tax evasion, as minimal but sufficient charge to end his real bad guy career. If you are correct, then the prosecutors should be personally destroyed as enemies to the rule of law.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 21, 2009 10:26:35 PM

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