No jail for man who shared child porn | SkyHiNews.com
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No jail for man who shared child porn

Sheldon

A Grand County man who was charged for watching and sharing a clip of child pornography managed to avoid jail time by taking proactive steps to seek treatment.

On Thursday, Judge Mary Hoak sentenced Michael A. Sheldon, 28, to 2 years of sex offender intensive supervised probation, 100 hours of community service, no use of technology except for work purposes and sex offender treatment for the charge of sexual exploitation of a child.

Sheldon will be required to register as a sex offender, though once his deferred sentence period has passed in April 2023, he can apply to be removed from the registry. Sheldon will only have access to a cellphone or computer for work-related reasons during his probation period.



In addition, Sheldon has over $4,000 in court fees.

Should Sheldon not complete the terms of his deferred sentence or commits another crime, he faces up to 90 days in jail, with four days credit time served.



Police arrested Sheldon in July at his home for sharing a Facebook video in a group chat showing child pornography. According to his arrest warrant, Sheldon had been drinking when he opened a spam message on Facebook and passed it along.

A written statement from Sheldon to police acknowledged the move was a “horrible test in judgment.”

In court on Thursday, Sheldon’s attorney, Marshall Breit, noted Sheldon’s case is unusual in that he’s not a repeat offender or someone accused of being sexually gratified by child pornography, but had a one-time incident with no other criminal history.

A pre-sentencing report from the probation department found Sheldon to be a low risk to reoffend and a psychosexual evaluation determined Sheldon didn’t have a pattern of seeking out or sharing child pornography.

In addition, Breit noted Sheldon had taken steps to address his actions by going to offense-specific therapy and not using substances. Breit encouraged the judge to suspend jail time so as not to disrupt Sheldon’s recovery efforts.

“I think Mr. Sheldon has done a really remarkable job under the circumstances over the past nine or 10 months, doing everything he can to begin this journey with (probation),” Breit said. “I think his perspective and ownership over his conduct is incredibly refreshing and oftentimes the biggest obstacle others face in treatment.”

In his own defense, Sheldon apologized to the court for his actions and pledged that he wouldn’t be caught in the same situation.

“It was not a smart choice that I made that I deeply regret,” he said. “I’m very committed to getting through treatment and doing whatever I need to to make sure this never happens again.”

Echoing Breit’s comments, 14th Judicial District Attorney Matt Karzen agreed that jail would not be useful in this case.

“I do not recommend any jail in this case because I don’t know at this point that it’s necessary or serves any priority,” Karzen said.

Ultimately, Hoak was swayed by Sheldon’s actions and words, noting his preemptive steps and lack of a pattern of worrying behavior made her more confident that treatment and supervised probation would be appropriate.

“I believe that this was a one-time access on your part … but what you have to realize, which I think that you do, is that by accessing this material and distributing it, you are perpetuating it,” Hoak told Sheldon. “I do think that you are sorry for what occurred, but your terrible, terrible error is that this is something that you cannot be curious about.”

 


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