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Man pleads guilty to possession of child pornography

Frederic Hal Lewis sentenced to 6 years in prison with 3 years suspended

September 23, 2010|By DON AINES

A man who possessed computer images of what Washington County Circuit Judge Daniel P. Dwyer said "can only be described as sexual torture" was sentenced to three years in state prison after pleading guilty Thursday to six counts of possession of child pornography.

Frederic Hal Lewis, 58, of 1210 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown, pleaded guilty to the six charges in exchange for four other counts of child pornography being dismissed, along with charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion said.

Dwyer sentenced Lewis to six years in prison with three years suspended in accordance with the plea agreement worked out between the state and defense attorney Lewis C. Metzner. The charges dated to 2007, when the maximum sentence for possession of child pornography was one year, Dwyer said.

"The law's gotten tougher since then," Dwyer said. The judge said he believed the maximum penalty had been raised to five years since the charges were filed against Lewis.

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"The description of these horrible pictures is sufficient" for a child pornography conviction, Dwyer said of the lengthy application for statement of charges. It described children as young as infants depicted in sexual acts with adults.

In April 2007, the Maryland State Police Computer Crimes Unit received a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding an America Online subscriber "sending suspected child pornography via e-mail," the application for statement of charges said. AOL had notified the center regarding a subscriber in Hagerstown, the statement said.

Police determined the subscriber was Lewis and obtained a search warrant in June 2007, the application for statement of charges said. Lewis told investigators he had a free six-month trial subscription, but that it had expired, the statement said.

Lewis denied he had sent any e-mails with pornographic images, telling investigators "that plenty of people used his computer," the application for statement of charges said. However, a search of computers in the house uncovered the pornographic images, the statement said.

Lewis was not "computer savvy" and there was no evidence that the computer at Lewis' house downloaded images on any other day than April 22, 2007, Metzner told Dwyer. It also was possible that another person with access to the computer could have downloaded the images, he said.

Dwyer noted that Lewis chose to take responsibility by pleading guilty. Because there is a market for child pornography, children are being sexually exploited, Dwyer said.

Following his release from prison, Lewis will be on probation for three years, during which time Dwyer ordered that he not be allowed to possess or have access to a computer.

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