News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

September 25, 2013

Former sheriff’s deputy sentenced on porn charge

Will be headed to federal prison

TERRE HAUTE — A former Vigo County sheriff’s deputy charged with one count of possession of child pornography was sentenced Tuesday to five years, eight months in federal prison.

James E. Haley Jr., 32, pleaded guilty as part of an agreement and was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William T. Lawrence.

The sentence also requires Haley to serve lifetime federal probation and register as a sex offender, according to Steve DeBrota, assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case.

During a sentencing hearing, Haley addressed the judge, as did his parents, who asked for leniency for their son.

“My son is not a monster, as he’s been portrayed,” said his mother, Dona Haley. “He’s a good person who made a horrible mistake.”

But DeBrota pointed to the victimization of children in the child pornography that Haley viewed over a period of at least six months. At the same time, Haley was a law enforcement officer in a position to understand the devastating impact to the young victims of sexual abuse.

By downloading these materials, Haley helped generate a market for sexual exploitation of children, the federal prosecutor said.

Haley was arrested March 15 at his Terre Haute home on one count of possession of child pornography and one count of distributing child pornography. Investigators report finding more than 40,000 images of child pornography on Haley’s personal laptop computer and a storage device. Some depict the abuse of children as young as 5 years old.

However, information was filed with the court in June that included only one count of possession of child pornography.

The criminal complaint filed in federal court earlier this year stated, “Haley admitted downloading child pornography from the Internet via a file-sharing program, and storing the material in his laptop computer and a Maxtor external storage device.” He admitted doing it for at least six months.

In a news conference after the two-hour sentencing hearing, U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett said he hopes the prosecution and sentencing send a message that “no one is above the law. You are not anonymous online, and this is not a victimless crime — if you engage in this behavior, our office will find you and hold you fully accountable.”

He said the prosecution comes as part of Operation Community Watch, an effort that aims to reduce abuse of Hoosier children through innovative investigative techniques and aggressive prosecution.

Hogsett said “it is with no joy that we prosecute law enforcement officials, the very people who are charged with the responsibility of enforcing the law.”

With Tuesday’s sentencing, justice has been served, Hogsett said, and Haley will never again carry a gun, carry a badge or wear a police officer’s uniform.

During the emotional sentencing hearing, Haley spoke to the judge. He pointed out that because of his actions, he has lost almost everything — his career, his fiancee, friendships and respect, things he will never be able to get back.

He apologized for his use of child pornography. “I know my actions have caused pain and suffering to victims,” he said. “I can only offer them sincere apologies and it will never happen again.”  

Haley said he was a law-abiding citizen prior to the period of time that he downloaded and possessed child pornography. He said he is once again law-abiding and “I plan to stay that way for the remainder of my life.”

Haley said to the judge, “Your honor, I ask you for mercy.”

His attorney, Joe Etling, said Haley had no prior criminal history and he was cooperative with law enforcement when they went to his home during their investigation.

“He has accepted full responsibility” for his actions, Etling said. He asked for the minimum sentence the court could impose.

Haley’s father, James E. Haley Sr., also took the stand, and told the court he is fighting stage 4 inoperable cancer. He said while his son has lost nearly everything, “what he hasn’t lost is the love, support and forgiveness of his family.”

Lawrence, in sentencing Haley, said the sentence must reflect the seriousness of the offense. The pornography included sadistic and masochistic conduct involving minors as young as 5. “These are victims — not just pictures,” Lawrence said.

The case is about children being abused in ways “that will have an appalling psychological effect” and perhaps physical harm as well, the judge said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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