US Judge sentenced to prison for child porn

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A former judge was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison on Tuesday for possession of child pornography that was initially found by a Canadian hacker vigilante who tipped off authorities six years ago.

According to a report by the Orange County Register in California the former Superior Court Judge Ronald C. Kline collapsed into the arms of his defense attorney upon hearing the sentence, which was the culmination of a years-long legal struggle through both federal and state courts.

Kline’s misdeeds were initially uncovered in 2000 by Brad Willman, who wrote a trojan that could keep track of Kline’s electronic activity. At the time of his illicit probes into Kline’s computer, Willman was only 19.

He conducted his own investigation of Kline as a part of three-year personal crusade against child molesters that had him illicitly tracking the computer use of up to 3,000 individuals across Canada, the United States and Russia.

"I would stay up late at night to see what I could drag out of their computers, which turned out to be more than I expected. I could read all of their emails without them knowing. As far as they were concerned, they didn't know their emails had even been opened," he told a Canadian newspaper in 2002.

"I could see who they were chatting with and read what they were saying as they typed. I judged these people by reading their incoming and outgoing emails. I was more interested in actual abusers or producers [of child pornography]. That was my priority — not the people that were just downloading images."

His activities also led to the conviction of a Canadian man who tried to offer his eight-year-old daughter for sex over the internet in 1999.

Willman initially contacted a watchdog group about Kline, which then contacted police in Irvine. Their official investigation led to the discovery of images on both his home computer and his courtroom machine. Kline later admitted to storing more than 100 sexually-explicit photos with underage children in them.

In 2002, a man came forward as a result of the publicity to accuse Kline of abusing him as a boy in 1979. This led to a subsequent state case against Kline that was eventually dismissed by a US Supreme Court ruling that the prosecution was pressed beyond the statute of limitations.
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