A man with connections to a neo-Nazi group and accused by some people of being a white supremacist was sentenced to prison time on federal child pornography charges Monday morning in Charlottesville's U.S. District Court.
Monday's sentencing was the last step in a case that looked much worse for Kevin Strom when it started then it turned out to be. Strom's final sentence tallies up to 23 months in jail with credit for time already served. But he started off with the potential of a much heftier sentence: 30 years in prison and half a million dollars in fines.
The case went public back in January 2007 when federal investigators arrested Strom. They raided his home and found computers with images of child pornography.
Strom faced several counts for having child porn. He was also charged with intimidating a federal witness and trying to entice a 10-year-old into illegal sex acts. Strom pleaded not guilty.
In October 2007, he went to trial for two of the charges, but in a surprise twist the jury left the court without ever delivering a verdict. The judge dismissed both the intimidation and enticement charges.
"The problem in the case was that there was a lot of behavior that was not necessarily criminal behavior that could have been innocent behavior. And you don't want to convict people of criminal offenses when their behavior is not criminal," stated public defender Fred Heblich.
The trial for child porn was delayed until January 2008. But when that time arrived, Strom pleaded guilty.
Then on April 21, 2008, judge handed down a sentence that could have Strom out of jail in time for Christmas. Strom spoke publicly, for the first time, in the court room. He said it was never his intention to have child porn and asked the judge to be merciful. The judge's response: Strom pleaded guilty to the charges and that's what he has to go by.
Kevin Strom's wife testified at the trial in October where he faced charges of intimidating a federal witness and enticing a 10-year-old into an illegal sexual act. She said her husband had a fascination with a young girl and that she believed he had a problem with pedophilia.
Part of her testimony included a contract she wrote up and asked him to sign saying he would get help for this problem. You can view the contract by clicking the "Strom Contract" link.
Judge Moon dismissed all the charges in the trial and said there was not enough evidence to prove Strom had done anything inappropriate. He said the contract was not evidence of wrong doing.