Telegraph, The (Nashua, NH)
September 1, 2005
Section: Amherst

Man answers porn charges

ANDREW WOLFE
Telegraph Staff

NASHUA – A city man admitted to possessing pictures he’d taken of a young, half-naked girl, and was sentenced Wednesday to a year in jail. Christopher Huntington, 25, pleaded guilty to four counts of child pornography without striking any sort of plea bargain.

In addition to Huntington’s jail term, Judge Gary Hicks sentenced him to five years on probation, with the threat of prison if he fails to behave. Huntington already spent more than four months in jail after his arrest last year, and that time will count toward his sentence. His NH criminal defense lawyer, Adam Bernstein of Nashua, argued those 143 days were enough, and that further punishment was “counterproductive” now that Huntington was getting treatment on his own.

First Assistant County Attorney Roger Chadwick argued Huntington deserved five to 10 years in prison for creating, as well as possessing, child pornography. “It’s clear to me that he is a clear and present danger to children,” Chadwick said.

Huntington was arrested May 24, 2004, after Officer Joseph Fricano found him parked at the Exit 6 rest area, sitting in the back seat of his Saturn, wearing women’s clothing and looking at an image of a young girl, naked from the waist down, on his laptop computer. Huntington later admitted that he knew the girl, and had taken the photo and others like it while she was asleep, police reported. He was later charged with possessing other images found on his computer after his arrest.

Investigators found no evidence that Huntington distributed the photos he made, Chadwick said. The photos have been entered into a law enforcement database, so police will be alerted if the images ever turn up on some other culprit’s computer, he said. Huntington has been undergoing treatment and counseling at RTT Associates in Manchester since being released on bail in October, Bernstein said, and any additional sentence would be “pure, 100 percent punishment,” he argued.

“He knows what he did was unacceptable, and he’s accepted that,” Bernstein said. “He clearly has an illness.

“I don’t think Mr. Huntington should be simply warehoused for the next three years,” he said.

Huntington’s wife and mother-in-law have supported his rehabilitation efforts, and attended the hearing Wednesday. Chadwick argued that Huntington deserved prison, and needed the rigor of the state’s sex offender treatment program.

In addition to creating and viewing child pornography, Chadwick cited other “red flags” in Huntington’s case, including his proclivity for cross-dressing and his failure to note the pending charges on a security guard job application while he was out on bail.

Bernstein countered that the job application was a “dumb mistake,” and that cross-dressing is not a crime.

“I don’t know if it’s appropriate or inappropriate. It’s certainly not illegal. There are a lot of people who engage in cross-dressing,” Bernstein said.

Huntington answered in a barely audible whisper as Hicks asked whether he understood the rights he was giving up by pleading guilty and, “in essence, throwing yourself on the mercy of the court.”

Huntington could have faced up to 3½ to seven years in prison on each of the four child pornography charges to which he pleaded guilty. State law sets no mandatory minimum, however, and typical sentences for child pornography cases in Hillsborough County have ranged from six to 18 months behind bars.

Huntington will remain on probation for five years after he gets out of jail, with a five- to 10-year suspended prison sentence. Hicks ordered Huntington to tour the state prison after he gets out of jail. He also ordered that Huntington continue counseling, have no unsupervised contact with minors, and that his computer use be monitored by probation officers.

Chadwick noted that the state’s child pornography statute, unlike most criminal laws, includes a declaration of purpose and specifically urges law enforcement officers “to aggressively seek out and prosecute” those who create, distribute or possess child pornography.

“As a prosecutor,” Chadwick said, “I feel duty bound to follow that (law) to the letter wherever possible.”

Illustration: Staff photo by Don Himsel
Christopher Huntington removes a ring from his finger before being led away by sherrif’s deputies at Hillsborough County

Superior Court in Nashua on Wednesday. Huntington pleaded guilty to four counts of child pornography.
Copyright, 2005, The Telegraph, Nashua, N.H. All Rights Reserved.