Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Single adoptive dad gets 25 years for making, distributing child porn involving sons (St. Paul, Minnesota)

We've posted on single adoptive dad GREGG LARSEN before. See this post from June on how authorities repeatedly ignored his sons' attempts to find safety:



St. Paul ex-teacher gets 25 years in prison for making and distributing child porn
By David Hanners dhanners@pioneerpress.com
Updated: 11/23/2010 12:15:51 PM CST

After hearing from the elder of his two adopted sons, whom he photographed nude, and from the father of a child he allegedly took nude photos of, Gregg Larsen admitted he was bad.

"What I did was heinous," the former foster parent and St. Paul teacher told U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen at his sentencing today. He said his son and the father were "absolutely and unconditionally correct."

"It was insanity," he said of his producing child pornography and distributing it online. "Anything I say is going to come off as an excuse. I don't want to make excuses."

Ericksen would have none, and sentenced the 49-year-old Minneapolis resident to 25 years in prison. Once he gets out — sometime in his 70s — he'll spend the rest of his life under court supervision.

And even though nobody knows what computers will look like or how they'll function a quarter-century from now, the judge said that once he is released, his computers would always be subject to monitoring.

After sentencing, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Steinkamp said agents found "more than 600 images" of child pornography on Larsen's computers, involving "many, many different people."
Larsen had taught at St. Paul's Central High School and was faculty adviser for the film and paintball clubs. Although prosecutors had previously alleged he had taken sexually explicit photos of his own two adopted sons and their friends, last week they disclosed he had also photographed some of his students with a camera hidden in the bathroom of his home.

Larsen was sentenced on a single count of production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. Ericksen said he should also get help for his problems in prison, but that she also hoped a 25-year sentence would send a message to others involved in online child pornography.

"You caused a great deal of harm," she told him.

She noted that while some photos were taken secretly with the bathroom camera, she had viewed photos that Larsen had taken in which he had asked children to pose.

"That's a pretty vicious thing to do to a child," she said. "You need to be imprisoned so the public is protected from you."

The sentence was less than the 30 years Steinkamp had sought, but greater than the 15 years defense attorney Joseph Tamburino said would be "sufficient." Afterwards, the prosecutor said the sentence was appropriate.

"It also sends a message to those who traffic in child pornography ... that these crimes will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted by our office," he said.

Larsen was arrested in July 2009 after an FBI agent, conducting an undercover sting, posed as someone else and contacted the Minneapolis man online. The agent said he connected to a file-sharing program Larsen used and downloaded child pornography from Larsen's computer.
When the FBI searched his home, agents found evidence of a camera hidden in one of the bathrooms.

In his brief comments to the judge, Larsen thanked FBI Special Agent Robert J.E. Blackmore, the agent who caught him. "That was the best thing that could happen to me," he said.

In an interview with the Pioneer Press in June, Pierre Larsen, the older of Larsen's two adopted sons, said that he had discovered the camera and told a Hennepin County social worker about it in 2007, but that nothing was ever done.

The county says it has no record of Pierre Larsen's claim.

Pierre Larsen, now 22, told Ericksen that Larsen had saved him from an abusive parent when he adopted him.

"I thought I found a real parent," he said of his adoptive father.

While he spoke, Larsen sat with his head up, but did not look in Pierre Larsen's direction.

"I really don't know what to think," Pierre Larsen said. "I tell myself that it doesn't hurt, but it hurts me, big-time."

One man who spoke to the judge said Larsen had abused and photographed his son. The child developed behavioral problems and bizarre habits — all unexplained until the child revealed Larsen's abuse.

"Mr. Larsen made it even worse, if that's possible," said the man, referring to the fact Larsen put the photos online. "Forever, these children will wonder, 'When will these pictures show up, when will these pictures destroy my life again?' "

The Pioneer Press generally does not identify victims of sex crimes, and is not naming the victim's father in this story.

In a court filing last week, Steinkamp said Larsen "repeatedly victimized" 16 boys who were either his own children, or friends of his children. Some victims were students photographed by the hidden bathroom camera.

The day after Larsen made his first court appearance after his indictment in May, Central High Principal Mary Mackbee sent a letter home with students saying that a "former teacher" was under investigation but that privacy laws barred her from naming the teacher or describing the charges.

St. Paul Public Schools hired Larsen in March 2003 after he had worked as a curator for the Minnesota Historical Society. After the FBI raided his home in July 2009, the district placed him on leave, and he resigned in May.

Larsen became a foster parent in Hennepin County in April 2000, the year after he adopted Pierre Larsen. In 2006, he adopted another child, now 10, and has since given up parental rights to him.

Larsen had written a letter to Ericksen before his sentencing. The judge has not made the letter public, but in a pre-sentencing memo filed on Larsen's behalf, Tamburino said the illegal acts happened "when he was depressed and drinking heavily. He does not specifically remember taking any digital photographs of his son or other victims."

Ericksen said she didn't buy the "I-did-it-because-I-was-drunk" explanation.

"I just don't accept that," the judge said. She said that when the FBI searched the home, they found child pornography, and they "didn't find bottles of booze all over the place."