ST. GEORGE – A U.S. District judge sentenced a 34-year-old man to 22 years and six months in prison and a lifetime on parole Monday for production of child pornography.
Judge Ted Stewart ordered Cedar City resident Chad Ryan Huntsman to 270 months in federal prison for enticing a minor victim to engage in sexual explicit conduct he later used to produce child pornography and transport it via the internet. Huntsman was given 10 minutes following court to report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
In addition, Stewart ordered Huntsman to remain on supervised parole for life while continuing to register as a sex offender throughout that time. He is also to complete mental health and sex offender treatment and is not allowed contact with anyone under the age of 18 without adult supervision.
As part of his parole, Huntsman waives his Fourth Amendment rights and will be subjected to regular inspections of both his home and his computer equipment. His internet access will also be restricted through the use of installed monitoring software and hardware.
Huntsman is to inform any employer or prospective employer of his current conviction and supervision status. He must also participate in the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Service Office Computer and Internet Monitoring Program and is subject to random polygraphs.
No fine was imposed, but Huntsman was ordered to immediately pay a special assessment fee of $100 payable immediately.
Finally, the court ordered a forfeiture of the following: iPhone 5c and miscellaneous photographs, videos and other visual depictions connected with the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Kohler recommended Huntsman be sentenced to 20 years. However, Stewart opted to give the defendant more time after heavily weighing the magnitude of Huntsman’s actions on the victim.
“I have to take into consideration that these images were not just viewed by the defendant but that he produced images that will forever be out there available on the internet,” Stewart said.
Stewart pointed to two other recent cases involving similar charges where the U.S. Attorney’s Office asked that the defendants remain in custody for 300 months, or 25 years. The district judge asked for a reason for the difference in sentencing recommendations. Kohler explained the lower recommendation was due to Huntsman’s assistance in locating other suspects implicated in the production and transfer of child pornography.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office also agreed to drop a second count originally filed against Huntsman for possession of child pornography.
Stewart said he was specifically troubled by the images Huntsman produced and distributed involving a 3-year-old victim. Those images were filed as part of what the court terms a “series” with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children where the government labels the images so they can later be traced if shared again on the internet.
“I think this case is perhaps unique in that the victim in this case is now a series on the internet,” Stewart said. “These images he (Huntsman) has generated are now out there forever. The victim will forever be identified by these images. I don’t believe I’ve had another case like this.”
The senior district judge also expressed concern about the lack of remorse he felt the former high school science teacher demonstrated.
Stewart’s opinion only grew stronger after listening to Huntsman read a personal statement the defendant had prepared that largely focused on God’s love for him and the pain he has experienced in the last year.
“I must confess even with Mr. Huntsman’s statement here today he has yet to fully recognize the impact of his conduct on the victim,” Stewart said. “The statement was about himself.”
Following court, Kohler reiterated Stewart’s sentiments to St. George News.
“I think the court kind of hit it,” Kohler said. “It was sincere but self-centered.”
In pleading for a lighter sentence, Huntsman’s attorney, LaMar Winward, argued that Huntsman’s behavior may be explained by a recent diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome coupled with a traumatic brain injury in 2000 and physical abuse through the defendant’s adolescent years.
These factors, Winward maintained, “justifies” the court in considering a “somewhat less” sentence for Huntsman than it might with another defendant with the same charges.
In a position statement filed with the court prior to sentencing, Winward pointed to various articles published in medical journals proving his client did not likely understand the gravity of his actions. Winward quoted:
‘People with AS often get into trouble without even realizing that they have committed an offense. Offenses such as making threatening statements’ personal, telephone, or internet stalking; inappropriate sexual advances, downloading child pornography; accomplice crime with false friends; and making physical outbursts at school or in the community would certainly strike most of society as offenses which demand some sort of punishment. This assumption, though valid at face value, may not take into account the particular issues that challenge the AS individual.’
The article further states that certain behaviors typical with Asperger’s Syndrome often make defendants appear to others as though they are remorseless.
Kohler, however, said he didn’t agree with Winward’s argument.
“No, I’m not buying that Asperger’s makes you a pedophile,” Kohler said.
The argument obviously didn’t persuade Stewart either, as he told Winward he could not forget the seriousness of Huntsman’s actions, stressing more than once that the defendant did not just view images but produced and distributed them.
The victim’s father, who later issued a written statement to St. George News, also doesn’t believe Asperger’s Syndrome or history of abuse has anything to do with Huntsman’s actions.
“I think that Chad is the basest of human beings there is. The fact that he tried to use Asperger’s as an excuse is deplorable,” he stated. “I have a history of Asperger’s and physical and sexual abuse in my family and yet somehow I have no history of sexually abusing or assaulting children. It’s the damnedest thing. It’s not our environment or upbringing that creates the sexual monster. It’s ALWAYS a choice. ALWAYS.” (see Ed. Note)
Huntsman was initially arrested by Cedar City Police Sept. 3, 2015. Federal charges came subsequent to the Iron County Attorney’s Office filing an information that same month in 5th District Court where Huntsman still faces multiple charges, including 10 second-degree felonies for sexual exploitation of a minor and two first-degree felonies for aggravated sexual abuse of a child.
Huntsman is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Wednesday, but the court docket shows he is likely to waive his right and move straight to arraignment.
The case was put on hold pending the outcome of the federal prosecution. Court records state the parties believe a resolution is possible in this case subsequent to the resolution in the federal case.
According to charging documents filed in 5th District Court in Cedar City, investigators located more than 150 images on Huntsman’s phone.
“All 156 images are of nude prepubescent female children being raped by adult men and/or sexually exploited,” the documents state.
The crime was first discovered by Dropbox, Inc., which reported the images to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on July 6, 2015.
Police traced the IP addresses used to download the images to Huntsman’s employer, Diamond Ranch Academy in Hurricane, and an iPhone 5c later found to belong to the defendant.
Diamond Ranch Academy, a local home for troubled youth, later issued a statement denying any association with Huntsman’s actions on their campus.
Huntsman waived his Miranda rights at the police station and admitted to investigators he had both possessed and shared the explicit child photos found in his possession.
At the same time, he also admitted to photographing a 3-year-old that was in several of the photos in various stages of nudity and stated there may have been touching involved. Two of the photos confirmed his statement, according to the court records.
It was those images for which Huntsman faces aggravated sexual abuse. The children in the other photos were not directly connected to Huntsman.
Huntsman was booked into the Iron County Correctional Facility Sept. 3 but was released the day after his arrest on $100,000 bail.
Cedar City Police Chief Darin Adams said he was glad to hear the sentence Stewart handed down to Huntsman.
“It’s nice to see justice be served in this case and the defendant held accountable for his actions,” Adams said.
Huntsman’s wife, Jessica Huntsman, was also arrested for her alleged involvement with child pornography. Her arrest came in October 2015, the month following her husband’s arrest.
Jessica Huntsman was charged with three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor that were later dismissed for insufficient evidence.
The charges came after she allegedly confessed to investigators she and her husband sought out child pornography for “the purpose of sexual arousal,” court documents state.
According to the charging documents in the case, investigators found three separate photographs of child pornography on her phone of four young children.
“Two are close up photographs that show the Childrens (sic) genitalia and the third shows posed children engaged in sexual activity with one another, mean to be titillating in nature,” court documents state.
Jessica Huntsman was also a science teacher employed at Diamond Ranch Academy.
Winward asked the judge Monday to remove Jessica Huntsman and her children’s name from the court records, stating it was “embarrassing” to her and unnecessary since her charges have since been dropped.
Stewart agreed to seal the portion of the record that discloses Jessica Huntsman and her children.
Ed. note: The father’s name was intentionally left out of the story to prevent the identification of the victim.
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