Students and faculty at Chanhassen High School were shocked and confused by the announcement that the school’s principal, Timothy Scott Dorway, was arrested on suspicion of possessing child pornography.
Dorway was arrested at his home by agents from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force which is partnered with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The arrest took place after authorities searched his home and his office at the high school. Sources say his preference was young girls aged 11-13. So far, Dorway has been charged with seven felony counts of possession of child pornography. He used Dropbox links which he accessed from both his personal electronic devices as well as IP addresses belonging to the school district.
He is in custody with a bail of $100,000 and due back in court on December 23rd.
Students, faculty and friends of Dorway expressed their disbelief that he would have anything to do with a crime of this nature. He is well-respected in the community and has a long history of working with children of all ages without any hint of wrongdoing or impropriety.
Minnesota law (617.247) covers both possession and distribution of child pornography.
The law states that you are guilty of dissemination of pornographic material if you provided the material to any adult or minor, and you are aware of the fact that it violates federal law. Anyone who is found guilty of dissemination of pornography faces jail time up to 7 years and fines up to $10,000.
If this is a second offense for the accused, the sentence jumps to 15 years and the fines can be as much as $20,000. If the accused is a registered sex offender, the penalty is 15 years.
Anyone in possession of child pornography and who is aware of, or reasonably aware of, its nature is guilty of possession. The law covers any means of storage; electronic, magnetic or hard copy. Anyone found guilty of possession faces 5 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. The second offense is 10 years and a $10,000 fine.
As with distribution, anyone found guilty of possession that is a registered sex offender gets a harsher sentence of 10 years.
All of these charges are felonies.
DEFENSE AGAINST CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES
As indefensible as charges of this nature may seem, there are legitimate and viable defense positions that are available to the accused. Statistics show that the conviction rate for child pornography arrests is very high. Chances are you will be found guilty unless you act quickly.
If the victims are identified from images, you could be ordered to pay restitution to them. Restitution amounts will depend on what damages are being sought; pain and suffering, mental health counseling, and any other disabilities or injuries that the victim claims are the result of the abuse/pornography.
Your first step should be contacting a Minnesota criminal sexual conduct lawyer who is experienced in these types of cases. It is critical you mount a strong defense and the best way to do that is by hiring a criminal defense attorney.
A research study from BioMed Central looked at the likelihood of a person who was found in possession of child porn committing a hands-on sex offense in the future. For those people who had no history of hands-on offenses, the chance that they would commit one in the future was low. The recidivism rate was also low.
Researchers also confirmed previous findings that indicated that child pornography consumers do no have histories of violent or sexual offenses.
This is a point of argument for the defense as it shows the low risk associated with child porn consumers acting out their predilections.
Another line of defense is that the accused may be unaware that the images were on the computer or in a particular file. Prosecutors would need to prove that there was knowledge of the presence of those files and that they were illegal images.
In other instances, individuals can be the victim of a set-up by a previous spouse or partner looking to gain an edge in a custody or support matter.
If have been charged with child pornography-related offenses or any other criminal sexual conduct such as rape, sexual assault, prostitution, incest or any other related matter, please contact us to set up a consultation to discuss your case. We can promise a detailed and aggressive defense on your behalf.
Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case.