Adkins found guilty of more than 100 child porn charges

January 21, 2004|GARY MOYERS

LEXINGTON - When U.S. District Court Judge Karl Forester pronounced Terry Adkins guilty of more than 100 child pornography charges Tuesday, the verdict seemed almost like a formality.

The prosecution called only three witnesses - all FBI special agents - and the defense called none. Adkins did not take the stand.

"We are planning to appeal," said defense attorney Patrick Nash. "That's why we did what we did today, to set up the appeals process. We feel the penalties are too severe to fit the crime, and that evidence was allowed that should not have been admitted."

Adkins was convicted of one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography, 99 counts of receiving child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography. He will be sentenced April 9 at 9 a.m. in a joint sentencing hearing with his wife, Jane Adkins, who was convicted of the same charges last month. U.S. Attorney Gregory Van Tatenhove said each could receive between five and 20 years on the receiving convictions, plus a $250,000 fine. The possession conviction carries a possible 10-year sentence, with three years supervised probation after release.


The couple were arrested July 30, 2003, after a search by officials in Boone, Boyle, Jessamine, Mercer and Scott counties for the perpetrators of sexual assault crimes against young victims in those locations. Sketches based on descriptions given by victims led to the eventual arrest of the couple at their home in Nicholasville.

In Boyle County, a boy less than 12 years old was allegedly assaulted while playing at the Boyle County Fairgrounds July 13. In Mercer County, a 10-year-old boy was allegedly assaulted in the Mercer County Public Library the same day.

Commonwealth's Attorney Richard Bottoms, who serves both Boyle and Mercer counties, said his office will wait until after the couple's federal sentencing hearing to decide whether or not to seek indictments against them. He said the federal charges would take precedence over local charges, possibly resulting in longer sentences than could be meted out for local charges, and that the ages of the alleged local victims would be problematic in putting them on a witness stand.

Terry Adkins faces local charges in Boone, Jessamine and Scott counties, but Tatenhove said after Jane Adkins' conviction that the local authorities may drop their charges depending on the sentences in federal court.

Nash said in his opening statement that there would be little offered in the way of a defense. He contended during the trial that there is no way to prove Terry Adkins was actually at the computer when the crimes were committed, and plans to base his appeal on that argument. The appeal cannot be filed until the sentencing hearing is held.

FBI agent testifies that Adkins confessed

The three FBI agents who testified Tuesday addressed technical details of the investigation, but the most damaging testimony may have come when Agent Frank Vito said Terry Adkins confessed twice to possessing child pornography the night he was arrested after a search warrant was executed at his home in Nicholasville.

Vito said law enforcement agents from Boone, Boyle, Mercer and Scott counties collaborated in the investigation, involving the FBI when suspicions were raised that Adkins may have committed predatory sexual attacks against children in those communities. He said a search warrant was obtained for the Adkins residence after a subpoena produced records from America Online that detailed Adkins' Internet usage from September, 2002, to May, 2003.

"Terry Adkins appeared very nervous when we knocked on the door of his home July 30, and when agents went into the bedroom to search his computer, he volunteered the information that he possessed pornographic images of children," said Vito. "He told us he had lots of child pornography, and that his wife had nothing to do with it."

Under cross-examination, Vito said Terry Adkins volunteered that information early in the interview, and he repeated the confession after he had been read his Miranda rights.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Wohlanger said Terry Adkins offered at one point after his arrest to work with law enforcement agencies to catch other people with whom he had exchanged pornographic images, but no deal was made.

"Typically the government does not strike deals with people engaged in this type of crime," he said. "We have the means to conduct our own investigations based on the electronic evidence available, and we want these people off the streets."

Wohlander said he plans to call several witnesses to the stand during the sentencing hearing for both Adkinses.

"We plan to bring testimony by expert witnesses as to the possibility that these people might engage in this type of criminal behavior again once they're released," he said. "Terry Adkins is 27, and if he's given a 20-year sentence, he could be out and doing this again at age 47. We plan to ask the judge to sentence them on consecutive terms on each count, which would lead to much more time spent in prison."

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