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Galax man sentenced to 5 years for child porn

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A federal judge said he considered Richard Taylor's mental evaluation and history in setting a lower prison term.

By Brian Funk, Editor

ABINGDON — After taking a week to consider the case, a federal judge has sentenced a Galax man to five years in prison for receiving and possessing child pornography.
Richard Lee Taylor, 38, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to the Internet child pornography charges. He received no plea agreement to lessen his sentence.

Judge James P. Jones reviewed evidence in the week following a Jan. 19 sentencing hearing, and imposed the mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years for each of the two charges, which Taylor will serve concurrently.
Taylor will also be under supervision for 10 years after his release, said Brian McGinn of the U.S. District Court.
While incarcerated at the federal prison in Butner, N.C., Taylor must undergo sexual offender treatment and register as a sex offender.
According to court files, the investigation into Taylor's activities began when a Charlottesville police detective determined that an Internet address in Galax was offering distribution of suspected child pornography through a shared file program.
The address was linked to the account of Taylor’s mother and a search warrant was issued for the residence, where the defendant resided.
A search on Oct. 29, 2009, by local investigators and the Southwest Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, determined Taylor was actively downloading suspected child pornography at the time of the search.
Taylor was arrested that day and “candidly revealed his offenses and admitted his compulsion” to officers, according to a pre-sentencing report.
Judge Jones wrote in his opinion on Jan. 31 that Taylor had “admitted to police that he had become “hooked” on child pornography and had been downloading it for over two years.”
A forensic examination of the computer located at least 28 child pornography videos.
“The law rightly condemns child pornography,” Jones wrote. “Downloaders of child pornography are severely punished in part to try to limit the breadth of this vile market.
“On the other hand, I am required by statute to also give individual consideration to the history and characteristics of the defendant in fixing a sentence.”
Jones said he considered Taylor's lifelong mental health issues, his “isolated” life and his lack of any criminal history.
The incident was Taylor's first criminal offense, the court records show. “He has never received as much as a speeding ticket,” according to the pre-sentencing report.
Jones said the investigation revealed that “there is no evidence that [Taylor] has ever attempted actual sexual contact with a child” and he appears to have “a proper loving relationship” with his own young son, who is autistic.
(Taylor's mother now has custody of the child.)
The judge wrote that, because of Taylor’s mental impairments and life-long social isolation, “he is less likely to have appreciated the wrongfulness of his conduct, which bears on his relative culpability” in the crimes.
Jones said he agreed with federal prosecutors that Taylor's crimes were serious, but felt five years was an appropriate punishment.
“I do not think that any reasonable observer of a five-year term in a federal prison would believe that it would not deter others from similar conduct,” he wrote.
“Because of his personality traits, this lengthy prison term will be more severe and difficult for him than other inmates. He is likely — because of those traits, and because of the nature of his crimes — to be victimized and to suffer more intensely the conditions of prison life.”