Texas Man Loses Challenge of Child Pornography Conviction

Texas Man Loses Challenge of Child Pornography Conviction

A Texas man lost an appeal Feb. 12 of his sentence for receiving child pornography after arguing he wasn’t aware the computer media-player program he used enabled others to see the pictures.

The defendant, Robert Baker, pleaded guilty to downloading eight videos depicting a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct. His use of the Frostwire file-sharing program meant his sentence could be increased above the minimum level set by federal sentencing guidelines.

Baker, who claimed he didn’t know others could download the images via Frostwire, appealed the 80-month imposed by a trial judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

In United States v. Baker, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the prison sentence. The opinion is here.

The appeals court noted that the prosecution said Baker deserved a “two-level” enhancement above the minimum sentence for several reasons. Baker, the appeals court said, used Frostwire to search for child porn, maintained the images in a shared directory, did not attempt to disable Frostwire’s default sharing function, and was not surprised when federal agents were able to download child porn from his computer.

The Fifth Circuit panel also noted that the trial judge, citing Baker’s health problems, gave him a lower prison term than the range of time allowed by the severity of the offense.

Fifth Circuit judges Thomas Reavley, Eugene Davis and Stephen Higginson presided over the appeal.

Lisa Hoffman is a contributing writer for The National Law Journal.

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