Utah Court of Appeals upholds child porn conviction

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a Sandy man who was sent to prison for up to 45 years for possessing child pornography and a gun. The court rejected the claim from Wayne Joe Bergeson that the evidence used against him should have been suppressed because it was found by looking up his IP address, the numerical label assigned to each computer.

Wayne Bergeson, undated | Prison photo courtesy of Utah Office of the Attorney General
Wayne Bergeson, undated | Prison photo courtesy of Utah Office of the Attorney General

In January 2007, the Utah Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force used a battering ram to open the door of Bergeson’s home in Sandy. Investigators found 1,700 videos of child pornography on CDs and 3,500 pictures and 1,300 videos of child pornography were found on computers in Bergeson’s home.

Bergeson was convicted of ten counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and five counts of possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person. The trial court ruled that using specialized software to find the suspect’s IP address did not amount to a search.

In his appeal, attorneys for Bergeson claim the trial court should have suppressed the evidence and that his trial court attorneys were ineffective.

In her response, Assistant Attorney General Marian Decker noted that Bergeson’s appeal did not challenge the trial court’s ruling that use of the specialized software did not constitute an illegal search. Because Bergerson did not attempt to show this ruling was wrong, Decker argued he could not show that his trial attorney was ineffective for not adequately supporting his claim in the trial court.

The Utah Court of Appeals ruled that Bergeson did not have ineffective counsel and that he could not challenge the search because he did not properly raise it in his appeal. “We conclude that Defendant has failed to challenge the District Court’s conclusion that the use of software to identify his IP address did not constitute a search,” wrote Senior Judge Russell Bench in the memorandum decision.

Submitted by the Office of the Attorney General

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