Daughter found child porn on dad’s phone. His punishment is ‘absurd,’ NM sheriff says

A New Mexico man was sentenced to one year in prison and gets unsupervised visits with his young kids after deputies said his 4-year-old daughter found child porn on his phone, and authorities traced 5,800 images back to him.
A New Mexico man was sentenced to one year in prison and gets unsupervised visits with his young kids after deputies said his 4-year-old daughter found child porn on his phone, and authorities traced 5,800 images back to him. San Juan County Sheriff's Office

His child pornography arrest wasn’t exactly a surprise, authorities said.

Andrew Long’s wife and daughter in Bloomfield, New Mexico, knew the 29-year-old father of two had child porn on his phone, according to the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office. His 4-year-old daughter had stumbled upon the images herself — and then his wife had addressed it with Long, and Long had agreed to delete the pictures, the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies in New Mexico first discovered Long’s child porn habit after the Department of Homeland Security forwarded a tip that implicated him, according to the sheriff’s office. His wife revealed she knew about the child porn when deputies started investigating and interviewed her, the sheriff’s office said.

Long was arrested on child porn possession and distribution charges in December 2016, deputies said. He was held on $15,000 bond, and then was released. Long was arrested on more felony child porn charges in August 2017, deputies said, adding that he could have faced up to 93 years in prison if convicted on all eight counts.

But Long was sentenced Monday to just one year behind bars in Aztec District Court after pleading guilty to a single count of possessing child porn, according to the sheriff’s office. The district attorney dropped the other charges, but had asked that Long be sentenced to at least 10 years, the sheriff said.

“The judge just didn’t see it our way,” said Dustin O’Brien, chief deputy district attorney in the 11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office Division 1, in an interview with McClatchy.

The judge who sentenced Long to the one year minimum also said Long could visit his young children without supervision and allowed Long to get work release, the sheriff’s office said.

Because Long gets credit for time served, he likely only has to spend eight more months behind bars — and he’ll serve that time in a county jail rather than in state prison, the sheriff said.

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“The lack of spine from all involved is appalling,” Sheriff Ken Christesen said in a statement posted to Facebook on Monday. “To sentence this predator to our county jail and utilize county resources on a state conviction is absurd.”

Prosecutors said a 93-year maximum sentence from the combined eight charges was never realistic in Long’s case.

“I found one case where the feds sentenced someone to 170 years, but the person was using live children to make these images and [was] human trafficking,” O’Brien said, adding that the longest sentence he was aware of in New Mexico on similar child porn charges was nine years.

The plea was written in such a way that if Long is found to have produced child porn himself, all the charges that were dropped can be brought back, O’Brien said.

Long will have to register as a sex offender for life, the sheriff said.

New Mexico deputies caught onto Long after a Montana child porn investigation pointed to him, and when authorities showed up at his workplace in 2016 to interview him Long admitted to downloading and sharing sexual images of underage girls, according to the sheriff’s office.

A search of his phone revealed sexually explicit photos of girls between 7 and 9, deputies said in December 2016.

Long was arrested again in 2017 on five more felony charges after more and more tips related to Long flooded in and showed more than “5,800 images of child pornography including infants under 12 months old” could be traced to him, deputies said.

Long was released Aug. 14 following the second arrest, and was barred from contacting anyone — family included — under 18, the sheriff’s office said.

Authorities added child porn manufacturing charges for Long because he created copies of child porn files and then put them on a Dropbox account where they could be shared, the Farmington Daily Times reports.

Before pleading guilty to the single count this week, Long initially pleaded not guilty to the first set of charges that were filed against him, according to the newspaper.

The sheriff’s post about the one-year sentence on Facebook Monday got a big reaction. Within a day, it had been shared more than 1,000 times and had even more comments.

“If we are not willing to protect our children, what are we willing to do?” Christesen asked.

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