Man sentenced to 13 months for having child porn

He claims his wife framed him

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

Updated: August 16, 2013, 7:11 PM

 
photoChristopher Eger, 39, of Vancouver was sentenced today by Clark County Superior Court Judge Scott Collier to 13 months after being found guilty of possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

(/The Columbian)

Buy this photo

A 39-year-old Vancouver man was sentenced Friday in Clark County Superior Court to 13 months in prison for possessing sexual images of minors.

Christopher Edward Eger was convicted June 14 of one count of possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, in what may be the first child pornography case to go to trial in more than 10 years in the county.

Eger vehemently maintained his innocence throughout the case and during his four-day trial in front of 12 jurors. He claimed that his wife, Di Eger, framed him after he asked for a divorce, so that she could gain custody of the couple’s two sons. His Vancouver attorney, Thomas Phelan, said he planned to file a notice Friday to appeal the conviction.

“There are a group of people out there in Clark County, Washington, that I have to say WTF were you thinking!” Eger wrote in a post June 28 on his Facebook page, two weeks after his conviction. “Thanks for helping that woman steal my sons from me!”

He has been free on $20,000 bond pending his sentencing and appeared Friday still wearing civilian clothes. He was ushered out of the courtroom Friday in handcuffs.

Deputy Prosecutor Anna Klein asked Judge Scott Collier to give Eger the maximum sentence of 14 months. Although nearly 300 child pornography images were found on Eger’s electronic devices, Eger could only be charged with one count because of the child pornography law at the time of his arrest in February 2010, Klein said. The state Supreme Court had ruled in April 2009 in State v. Sutherby that no matter how many child pornography images a person had, prosecutors could charge him or her with only one count of possession, due to the way the law was written. The Legislature acted in March 2010 to make the law more specific and allow defendants to be charged with one count for each image they possessed.

Klein said the judge should consider that state lawmakers intended that defendants be punished for each image they have. Under the new law, Eger would have faced a sentence of 77 to 102 months in prison, she said.

She said a minor had to be sexually abused to produce each image.

“This is not a victimless crime,” she said.

“These types of images wouldn’t be all over the Internet if there weren’t people like Mr. Eger who wanted to see them … and get off on them,” she said.

Phelan said Klein was “grandstanding.”

“There is no reason to go to the high end here … especially given the circumstances of this case,” Phelan said. He said the loss of his children, home and career as a test control officer at the Military Entrance Processing Command in Portland was punishment enough. He asked the judge to follow a recommendation by a pre-sentence investigator for a sentence of 12 months.

Collier decided on 13 months because, he said, Eger has no prior criminal history.

Eger met his wife while teaching English in China and brought her back to upstate New York several years ago to live with him, said Clark County sheriff’s Detective Kevin Allais. She told investigators that she found child pornography on his computer during that time, Allais said. She knew it was wrong then, but being new to the country, she wasn’t sure what to do about it, he said.

Three years ago, she found more child pornography on his computer, while the family was living in Vancouver, he said.

Eger stored the child pornography, along with adult pornography, on Pretty Good Privacy, a software-based encryption program, and used a password to gain access to the images, according to court documents.

When sheriff’s detectives questioned Eger, he admitted to downloading and viewing child pornography, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in court.

Eger’s defense was that those comments were taken out of context. He claimed his wife placed the child pornography on his computer while he was out on a hike with a colleague. The colleague, David Proctor, said he and Eger went hiking on the Greenleaf Falls Trail near Stevenson from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Jan. 24, 2010, when the images were placed on Eger’s computer.

In addition to Eger’s confinement, he will be under community supervision for three years and may not have unsupervised contact with children, other than his offspring. He also will be required to undergo a sexual deviancy evaluation.

Allais said Eger’s is the first child porn trial he remembers in about 13 years. Lawyers with the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said it was the first child pornography trial in their memory.

Child pornography defendants generally take plea deals because possession of such material is usually easy to prove, Allais said.


Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts; http://facebook.com/ColTrends; paris.achen@columbian.com