Mandatory prison for former UW student in child porn case - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Mandatory prison for former UW student in child porn case

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A former UW-Madison doctoral student in education became the first person in Dane County to receive a mandatory prison sentence under a state law on child pornography.

32-year old Jay Babcock received a three year prison sentence Monday, and five years of extended supervision. Court officials said Babcock will have treatment opportunities in both settings.

Babcock had more than a half dozen child pornography videos stored on his computer when arrested last year. Babcock also admitted he took a photo under a table of a young girl at a Verona elementary school and downloaded it to a shared, online site.

"For people who are making a choice in front of the computer one day...whether to download those images or not, that they'll hear about this sentencing, and they'll follow the press about a mandatory, minimum prison sentence, and this will deter others," Dane County Judge Julie Genovese said.

The law on possession of child pornography changed last year. Instead of a presumption a judge will sentence offenders to at least three years in prison, the statute makes the three years mandatory in almost all cases. Previously, judges could depart from the presumption of three years prison, with justification.

Former federal prosecutor and Madison attorney Chris Van Wagner told 27 News taking discretion away from judges in certain crimes sometimes backfired in the federal system, with lesser, alternative charges resulting from negotiations between prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Van Wagner also said part of the impetus for the law change was a perception of leniency in child pornography cases in Dane County. While Van Wagner estimated seventy-five percent of child porn cases resulted in no prison sentences, he said those cases involved probation sentences with jail terms included, treatment, and strict community monitoring.

Babcock apologized for his actions in court. He said he considered his possession of pornography a re-victimization of the young girls who were videotaped in sexual encounters with adults. Babcock also apologized for the impact of his actions at the school on the girl who was photographed, and one of her friends, who was the subject of Babcock's academic study.

"You lost your career...you lost a lot respect. Now you're going to lose your freedom," Genovese said.

 

 

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