Artorius Castus

Veteran admits acquiring child porn

Posted in Uncategorized by Patrick Truax on December 31, 2008

Activist says files were for research
By Steve Liewer and Greg Moran, staff writers

2:00 a.m. December 23, 2008

FEDERAL COURT — A San Diego veterans activist and Vietnam War hero who served in a senior Navy post during the Clinton administration pleaded guilty yesterday to a federal charge of possessing child pornography.

Wade Sanders (seen here in 1999) pleaded guilty to possession of child porn.

Wade Rowland Sanders, 67, acknowledged in federal court in San Diego that last May, he possessed computer files containing 600 images of minors, including a 21-minute video that depicted girls engaging in sex acts with an adult man, according to court records. He was caught under a 2½-year-old Department of Justice investigation called Project Safe Childhood, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego said.

Authorities arrested him Nov. 7.

In a telephone interview last night, Sanders said he had downloaded the files as part of his research for an article on the sexual exploitation of children in foreign countries. He said his work for the Clinton administration had included aiding victims of child sex abuse in the former Yugoslavia.

“I have no sexual attraction to children whatsoever,” Sanders said. “There was no evil intent.”

Sanders, a lawyer, said he didn’t realize federal child pornography laws barred downloading or viewing the material even by researchers. He said that is why he decided to plead guilty.

“I thought since my motives were pure and innocent, that would make a difference,” he said. “I’m technically guilty of the crime.”

Sanders pleaded guilty to one felony charge of possession of images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

A judge scheduled sentencing for March 30. Sanders faces a maximum of 10 years in prison but could receive far less time. He also could be fined $250,000 and be required to register as a sex offender.

Sanders, a retired Naval Reserve captain, earned a Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart while serving aboard Swift boats during the Vietnam War. He served from 1993 to 1997 as deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for reserve affairs under Clinton. Since last year, he had been a senior adviser on military and veterans affairs for California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi until resigning Nov. 8.

Sanders had served with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., in Vietnam, and had been among the senator’s most vocal defenders when some veterans questioned Kerry’s military record during his 2004 presidential run.

The investigation into Sanders began in October 2007, according to a statement filed in the case by San Diego FBI agent John Caruthers.

Another FBI agent working undercover signed on to a file-sharing computer network and entered a search term that is used for accessing child pornography images.

Among the responses to that search term was one for a specific computer address that the agents eventually traced to Sanders’ home in South Park in San Diego. The agent then obtained a list of files that were being shared on the computer and downloaded 11 files, including at least two that contained images of child pornography.

On May 2, 2008, agents executed a search warrant at Sanders’ home and seized his computer. During the search, Sanders admitted he had downloaded child pornography using the file-sharing program, but said he deleted the files once he noticed they were downloaded, according to the FBI statement.

He also denied “any inappropriate contact with children,” Caruthers wrote.

The FBI searched the computer and found “multiple videos depicting child pornography” saved on the hard drive.

After his arrest, Sanders posted a $75,000 bond and was released. He waived an indictment Dec. 4, meaning the case was not presented to a grand jury first. Sometimes that can work in a defendant’s favor at the time of sentencing.

The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alessandra Serrano, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Sanders said he believes he is a victim of zealous prosectors.

“I got caught in the net,” he said. “I’m not the kind of person they were after.”

Steve Liewer: (619) 498-6632; steve.liewer@uniontrib.com

*Snort* Research? That would make a cat laugh! Republicans-perverts, Democrats-researchers.

Story from signonsandiego.com

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