Feds Make It Tough For An Accused Child Pornographer
Thursday, February 8th 2007, 8:46 pm
By: News On 6
Federal prosecutors believe David Abston should not be allowed to plead no contest. The News On 6 reported on Monday, Abston's lawyer filed court papers saying Abston was willing to plead 'no contest,' but would not plead 'guilty.' He argued a guilty plea could affect Abston if he gets charged by the Tulsa County District Attorney.
News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports federal prosecutors filed court papers, urging the federal magistrate not to let Abston plead 'no contest.'
Abston is accused of having 1,000 sexually explicit photos of minors on his home computer. Prosecutors say they offered Abston a plea deal in early January, but when they didn't get a response, they withdrew the offer a few weeks later.
If Abston took the deal, he'd plead 'guilty,' which is admitting guilt on the record. He prefers to plead 'no contest,' which is not admitting guilt, but is agreeing the case against him could be proved. Although, the record would show a finding of guilt.
Abston says he wants to plead 'no contest' so the case to be handled without a trial, but prosecutors argue a trial would still be necessary to decide whether the government can seize Abston's home, since he is fighting that.
Abston says pleading 'no contest' would help him in case he later faces state charges. Prosecutors argue he doesn't currently face any other charges and he shouldn't be allowed to plead 'no contest,' on speculation those charges may be filed. Prosecutors also argue a 'no contest' plea does not provide justice because it because it takes away from the seriousness of the charges and would not serve as a deterrent to other people who might possess child pornography, in the future.
The federal magistrate will decide whether Abston can plead 'no contest.' If he's not allowed to, the case could go to trial.
The Tulsa County District Attorney's office is looking over the statements of many boys who made police reports, accusing Abston of molesting them, but the DA has not yet filed any charges. They say they want to meet with some of those boys first.
Tulsa County DA Tim Harris recently learned Abston had contributed to his election campaigns. Harris says he immediately wrote Abston a check for $1,700 to reimburse him and to ensure there was no conflict of interest. Harris says it's common to not know all of your campaign contributors personally. He says that fact will have no bearing on what charges his office might file on Abston.