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Dunbar man gets 16 years for possessing child porn

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Kanawha County judge levied a 16-year prison sentence Tuesday on a Dunbar man who downloaded thousands of reportedly violent child pornography images to his home computers.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib Jr., calling the case "very disgusting," sentenced Ryan Montgomery to consecutive two-year prison terms Tuesday on a total of eight counts of child porn possession.

Montgomery pleaded guilty to the charges last year, after workers in a South Charleston computer store, where he left his computer for repairs, found suspicious material on the computer's hard drive. The workers called police, who eventually found thousands of illegal pictures and videos on several more computer hard drives during a search warrant raid on his home in Dunbar.

Many of the images showed adults binding and raping girls, all between the ages of 7 and 12. Police also found pictures of girls wearing gymnastics uniforms and Japanese cartoons depicting minors in sexually deviant situations, Kanawha County assistant prosecutor Jennifer Meadows said.

A grand jury indicted Montgomery last year on 58 total counts of child porn possession, one charge for each illegal image detectives selected from the computer.

Those specific 58 images depicted known child sex victims listed in a national police database, Meadows said, adding that Montgomery had the most extensive and disturbing child porn collection that she has seen in her career as a prosecutor.

"I think that the record, the facts show that he is a danger and risk," Meadows said.

Montgomery, who has been free on bond since his arrest last February, said that he became addicted to adult pornography while serving in the Navy and that the addiction served as a kind of gateway to child pornography.

"I watched way too much porn," he said during Tuesday's hearing. "Eventually, I started looking at other porn."

Montgomery said that since his arrest, he has been in intensive therapy. He was honorably discharged after 11 years in the Navy and he denied ever touching a child inappropriately.

Timothy Smith, Montgomery's lawyer, asked the judge to sentence his client to a term of probation.

"Vengeance can feel good," Smith said. "It doesn't mean it's always a wise social decision."

Zakaib's decision Tuesday appears to be the harshest sentence involving child pornography in recent memory.

In June, Zakaib sentenced former state Child Protective Services worker George Anderson to four years on home confinement, despite prosecutors' pleas to send him to prison.

Anderson pleaded guilty to four counts of child porn possession. At least one of the images police found on his computer depicted a grown man urinating into a child's mouth.

In federal court, where many child porn cases end up because they involve Internet file sharing, judges have decided on comparatively smaller sentences.

Also in June, Roane County brothers Adam and Jacob Seen were sentenced to two years in federal prison for possessing more than 600 illegal images of minors. Adam Seen had been a school computer technician. A month later, a federal judge sentenced Richard Paul Diaz, of St. Albans, to six years in prison for having about the same number of images on his computer.

Even recent state sexual assault cases have seen lighter sentences.

In 2010, Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod J. Kaufman levied a minimum 15-year prison sentence on Thomas Henry Gravely, whom a jury found guilty of raping three prostitutes at knifepoint. Gravely was found guilty of four counts of first-degree sexual assault and one count of first-degree sexual abuse. Kaufman elected to run the sentences together, rather than consecutively.

Last year, Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom sentenced Ronald Good, 58, to one to five years in prison, plus an additional 90 days in county jail for sexually abusing his stepdaughter and neighbor more than 30 years ago.

Meadows said Tuesday that every case is different, and Montgomery's case was particularly egregious because of what she said was unspeakably horrible material investigators discovered on his computers.

"We're very happy with the sentence," Meadows said. "In the state's view, there [was] true potential for predatory behavior."

Reach Zac Taylor at zachary.taylor@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.


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