Last updated: June 23. 2014 11:22AM - 7281 Views
By - aashley@civitasmedia.com



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A LaGrange man was sentenced to three years in prison Friday afternoon after he pleaded guilty to accessing child porn on the Internet.


According to Assistant District Attorney Lynda Caldwell, in December 2012 detective William Nelson of the LaGrange Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force found that an IP – Internet Protocol – address coming from a residence in the 100 block of Briarcliff Road was distributing several images of child porn.


A search warrant was obtained to search the residence where 14 images of child porn were found on a computer belonging to Andrew Scott, 29, and investigators found numerous searches in the computer related to child porn. Images and videos containing younger children engaging in sexual acts with an adult, a child engaging in bestiality and other forms of underage sexual activity were found on the computer.


Scott, originally charged with 14 counts of child exploitation, pleaded guilty to eight of the counts because it was “in his best interest,” said defense attorney Peter Alford. Six counts were dismissed.


Testimonies from the LaGrange College graduate’s family included Scott’s grandmother, aunt, mother, father and stepfather, whom all spoke kind words on his behalf to convince Troup County Superior Court Judge Quillian Baldwin to avoid jail time in Scott’s sentencing.


“He’s done something foolish, but he’s not a malicious person,” said Scott’s stepfather, David Wild.


Scott has lived with his grandmother since March and has been a big help with his grandfather, who has dementia and he has been helping on the family farm, said his grandmother, Hazel Scott.


“If I could take the punishment for him I would,” said Hazel Scott. “He’s going to be humiliated enough with his name on that list.”


Andrew Scott is now a registered sex offender for life.


Though Caldwell sympathized with the family, she requested that Baldwin issue a sentence of 10 years for Scott, to serve five in prison.


“There is no doubt that the defendant has probably been a good son, a good nephew, a good grandson and that seems to be indisputable from all these people here,” said Caldwell. “But this is a crime that’s committed in secret. So there’s a part of this defendant that these people do not know.”


The five-year prison sentence will send a message to the community that child porn will not be tolerated, Caldwell said.


“There are these children that are put in these videos and photographs, and if it was not for people like the defendant, who chooses to look at and trade these files, there would be no market for this,” Caldwell said. “It may appear that this is a victimless crime, but this is such a victim crime. We have to protect our children.”


The defendant told Baldwin that he had never been in any trouble, is a college graduate and is an active volunteer in several organizations, including Relay for Life and the Humane Society.


“I just ask for leniency your honor,” Scott said.


Alford told Baldwin that his client received a psycho-sexual evaluation as part of the sex offender protocol, and results from a risk assessment indicated that there is only an 8 percent probability that Scott may commit any type of offense within a year. Scott has also been receiving counseling in regards to the charges, Alford noted.


“I can’t explain to you why people want to look at porn,” said Alford. “The Internet is just bad. It makes all this stuff so readily available to everybody that it’s just almost crazy to me.”


“Without people like this we still have child molesters,” said Alford in rebuttal to Caldwell’s argument. “Is it terrible? Yes, no doubt. But child molesters are the ones that need to be arrested and locked up forever.”


Alford argued for a 20-year probated sentence.


“To a certain extent he’s ruined,” Alford said. “Whether you put him in jail for a day or a 100 years, he’s ruined. He’s going to be on the sexual offender registry list the rest of his life. He’s 29 years old! Every year he has to report to the sheriff’s office for this. He can’t go anywhere that children congregate for the rest of his life. That is a heavy sentence for 14 files of child porn.”


Alford told Baldwin that Scott’s behavior has been deterred and he will likely never look at any type of porn again due to fear of what may pop up on his computer.


Alford argued that Scott meets the special provisions for sentencing of a sex offender, which allows the judge to use discretion in avoiding the mandatory five-year prison sentence of sex offenders.


Scott has no prior convictions, a deadly weapon was not used in the commission of the crime, no intentional physical harm was caused, there was not transportation of a victim, and a victim was not physically restrained by the defendant, making him eligible for deviation of the mandatory sentencing, Alford noted.


Baldwin did find that Scott was qualified for the deviation, but chose to sentence Scott to a lesser term of 15 years, to serve only three in prison with the remaining on probation.


“You can’t just let something like this totally go and hopefully Andrew will get through this part of his life,” said Baldwin. “It’s kinda like people selling drugs. We probably wouldn’t have this crime if there weren’t people on the Internet looking this stuff up.”


Scott was also fined $10,000 to begin paying 90 days after his release from prison.

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