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Man gets 18 months in child-porn case

January 07, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

A Hagerstown man who pleaded guilty in August to two child pornography charges was sentenced on Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court to 18 months in jail.

Michael Wayne Ridenour, 31, of the 100 block of South Potomac Street, had been jailed without bond since Aug. 20, awaiting sentencing on one count each of solicitation and possession of child pornography.

Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III imposed a 10-year sentence for the solicitation and a one-year concurrent sentence for possession of child pornography, and suspended all but 18 months, court records said.

Ridenour apologized in court Thursday, but neither the victim nor members of his family were present, court records said.

He will be on probation for five years when released and must register as a sex offender, court records said.

Last March 5, a teacher at Brook Lane Health Services near Leitersburg contacted Investigator Kenny Barnhart of the Washington County Sheriff's Department about a letter a 13-year-old student had found that day at his bus stop.

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A manila envelope with the message "Read Me" contained a letter soliciting the child to take nude pictures or videotapes of himself, place them in a brown bag with a smiley face drawn on it and leave them at the bus stop on March 9, court records said.

At 6 a.m. March 9, Barnhart and other officers saw a white Ford pull up to the bus stop. The driver spoke to the child, handed him a letter and drove away.

The child put the bag on the ground, got on his bus and left the area, court records said.

The white Ford came back, stopped and the driver picked up the bag and drove away, court records said.

When asked about the letter, its contents and its intended recipient, Ridenour told Barnhart he had a problem and needed help.

Barnhart's investigation revealed Ridenour used the Washington County Library computers to access Internet gay and lesbian chat rooms, court records said.

Several computer disks containing pictures of nude male teenagers were found in the trunk of the car, court records said.

Ridenour was charged with solicitation of child pornography, possession of child pornography, child pornography from computers, and contributing to the condition of a child, court records said.

Two charges were dropped in August in exchange for the pleas, court records said.

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