Almanac

News - July 24, 2013

Child-porn sentencing delayed

Portola Valley resident Stephen Wolf, who in March pleaded no contest to possession of child pornography, was to be sentenced July 19, but with attorneys arguing over how many times Mr. Wolf allegedly downloaded the pornography, the judge delayed sentencing by eight weeks to allow computer forensic examiners to weigh in, according to prosecutors.

Mr. Wolf's attorney claimed: there was a one-time download that lasted less than 10 minutes, and that consisted of both legal pornography and child pornography; and that his receipt of the child porn was inadvertent, Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said.

Prosecutors "absolutely object" to the claim of a single download and allege multiple downloads, Ms. Guidotti said.

Mr. Wolf's attorney Jonathan McDougall, did not respond to requests for an interview. Mr. Wolf is out of custody on $10,000 bail.

In delaying sentencing until Sept. 13, Superior Court Judge Jonathan Karesh said that the number of downloads would be of significant influence to him in determining the length of the sentence, Ms. Guidotti said.

In the plea bargain, Mr. Wolf, 65, agreed to a sentence of up to one year in jail on condition that he not be sent to prison. Prosecutors had been seeking up to 16 months in prison, but the judge rejected it. Prosecutors did succeed in parrying the defense's bid to have the offense reclassified as a misdemeanor, Ms. Guidotti said. Mr. Wolf will have to register as a sex offender, prosecutors said.

It's standard practice for San Mateo County prosecutors to ask for a prison option for "people who are fascinated by child pornography," and common practice for judges to reject that option when the defendant has no history of actual sex offenses, as was the case this time, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe has said.

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