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Former USF dean sentenced for child pornography

By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service

March 27, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - A former dean of education at the University of San Francisco was sentenced in federal court today to five years and three months in prison for possessing child pornography obtained on the Internet.

William Garner, 67, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to pay $50,000 in restitution to a charity, the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center.

The sentence and restitution were agreed to by prosecution and defense when Garner pleaded guilty before Walker in San Francisco in December to one count of pornography possession.

Attorneys on both sides agreed in sentencing memoranda filed with Walker that Garner had collected 5,537 images of child pornography Garner told the judge today, "I deeply regret the shock and embarrassment I caused to my wife, my friends and my colleagues. I deeply regret what I've done to myself."

He said, "I saw myself as an observer of this world of child pornography, not as a participant, although I now see that any participation perpetuates this world which no one should enter."

Garner taught at USF, a Jesuit Catholic University, from 1979 until he retired in July 2006 and was dean of the School of Education from 1983 to 1987.

Walker said the crime was "fueled by defendant's drinking problem" and agreed to a defense request to recommend that Garner be assigned to a prison with a 500-hour alcohol rehabilitation program.

He ordered Garner, who is now free on a $50,000 bond, to surrender to authorities no later than June 18 or earlier if he is given an earlier date by whatever institution he is assigned to by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

During an hour-long sentencing hearing, Walker asked prosecution and defense attorneys "what benefit is served by the lengthy prison term" and asked whether authorities are going after pornography suppliers as well as users.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathanael Cousins said the sentence served the purpose of "general deterrence of this type of crime" and said that using pornographic images creates a market for them.

He called Garner's actions "a very serious offense" and said the images included children as young as two and five years old being tortured and sexually assaulted.

Cousins said, "This was not a one-time thing. It happened over a period of many years and was an intentional collection of these images."

Defense attorney Jeremy Blank said Garner didn't participate in making the images, didn't distribute them to others, didn't pay for them and was "well-removed from the actual victims."

But the attorney did not oppose the agreed-on sentence. In the end, Walker imposed the stipulated penalty, noting that it was agreed on by both sides and was consistent with other sentences in similar cases.

Garner told Walker during his courtroom statement, "What I did was very secret. No one knew and no one was ever to know."

He said, "In more than 30 years of higher education, working with many graduate students, teachers and administrators, no one ever questioned whether I could be trusted.

"Now that question will always be there. I will be a felon and a sex offender. It was not supposed to end this way," Garner said.

In addition to imposing the prison sentence, the judge ordered three years of supervised release after the prison term.

He said Garner can't drink alcohol, must submit to alcohol tests, can't be in the presence of children unless another adult is present and can't have Internet access without the permission of a probation officer during that period.

Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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