Light sentence tossed in child porn case

By Ed White

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- An appeals court ordered a new sentence Monday for a Detroit-area man who avoided federal prison despite pleading guilty to possessing thousands of images of child pornography.

Rufus Robinson of Pontiac faced at least 6 1/2 years in prison under federal guidelines but instead received five years of supervised release or probation. His day of arrest was counted as the only time in custody necessary for the crime.

"The sentence does not reflect the seriousness of this offense. ... Some of the images involved the bondage, torture, and rape of prepubescent children," the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said. "Further, Robinson did not just possess images -- he subscribed to a child pornography website and paid a fee for images."

The case now returns to U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow for another sentence. In ordering no prison or fine in 2009, Tarnow said Robinson was not a pedophile, and an expert's report found Robinson was at low risk for such conduct.

Tarnow also criticized the mandatory five years of supervised release, which required Robinson to be under the watch of a probation officer.

"We have too much money in this country. Five years of supervised release for this?" Tarnow said when Robinson pleaded guilty.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Mulcahy told the appeals court that Tarnow had "abused" his discretion when he sentenced Robinson. He said "thousands of children were raped, molested, and harmed for the pleasure" of Robinson and others.

The appeals court didn't recommend a specific sentence. The three-judge panel said Tarnow had failed to identify any extraordinary factors that would justify a dramatic departure from the guidelines.

Robinson's attorney, Kimberly Stout, was disappointed with the decision but said it's still possible that her client won't face a stiff punishment.

The judge "could supplement the record to satisfy the concerns of the court of appeals and sentence him very similarly if not the same," Stout said.

Published: Wed, Feb 29, 2012