Court ruling on child porn overturns convictions for two men

Created: 04/23/2014 6:26 PM
By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4

This week, the New Mexico Supreme Court determined state law is unclear on whether child porn suspects can face multiple charges for having lots of images.

Justices determined suspects should face just one count.

The state Supreme Court ruling overturned convictions for two New Mexico men, James Olsson and Willard Ballard.

Now, they only face one charge each.

“It dramatically reduces the risk of prison time in each and every case," said 5th Judicial District Attorney Janetta Hicks.

Hicks says child porn suspects who would have faced decades in prison for multiple counts, face just 18 months under one count.

"Often in these cases the defendant has hundreds of images of multiple children,” said Hicks. “They take a long time to look for them, to search for them, and they download them over a long period of time. Pictures, video everything. So every one of the cases currently pending will be affected by this decision."

"Those represent, each picture represents, a lifetime ruined. Can you even fathom being a 3-year-old child and being continually raped in front of cameras just for somebody's gratification. It happens all the time," said child advocate Carrie-Leigh Cloutier.

It’s up to the state legislature to clarify the law.

"I would urge the legislature to take up this issue on the earliest possible opportunity.  Because it will affect thousands of children, it will affect lots of different cases and we need to remove these people from our society.  We need to be able to aggressively prosecute these cases," said Hicks.

"And if we are not prosecuting that kind of child abuse to its fullest all the time, how are we even going to pretend to start preventing it?" said Cloutier.

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