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Professor gets more than 6 years in prison for child porn

February 8, 2016 GMT

PITTSBURGH (AP) — An award-winning contemporary literature professor was sentenced to 6 years and 4 months in federal prison for his massive child pornography collection that topped a half million images, a federal judge said on Monday.

Kirk Nesset’s sentencing also included 10 years of supervised release after he serves his time.

Nesset resigned from Allegheny College in Meadville after he was arrested in October 2014 and pleaded guilty last year to possessing, receiving and sharing child pornography.


Nesset has anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and is bi-polar and that, “For Kirk, obsessive collecting was more important than viewing,” defense attorneys Meagan Temple and Michael Bruzzese wrote in a pre-sentencing memo filed last week.

The defense attorneys contend Nesset sought mental health treatment for years, but because his therapist would have had to report the child pornography addiction to authorities, Nesset didn’t disclose it. As a result, his symptoms were treated but not their underlying cause and he deserved mercy because he’s actively sought treatment since his arrest, they argued.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian Trabold contended Nesset’s collection of 540,000 child porn movies and images including infant rapes — many cataloged into specific computer folders to denote their type — warranted harsh punishment.

“Nesset possessed numerous movies and images depicting babies and toddlers subjected to horrific acts of sexual abuse,” Trabold wrote. Nesset told authorities he used the materials to find “solace” and to “release steam,” Trabold wrote.

But Nesset had a keen interest in pornography involving infants and toddlers, otherwise he “would have deleted this abhorrent material and not saved it in labeled folders,” Trabold wrote.

“The consequences of his unwavering decision to distribute, receive and possess child pornography pale in comparison to the horrible toll suffered by the child victims whose abuse enthralled Nesset for so long.”

The judge also awarded $78,900 total in restitution to four child porn victims who had previously filed complaints.

Nesset, 58, won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize in 2007 for a collection of short stories called “Paradise Road.” The award is given annually by the University of Pittsburgh Press and includes a $15,000 cash prize.


Nesset listed physical addresses in Prescott, Arizona, and Meadville, when an FBI agent in Arizona traced two movies to Nesset’s computer address in August 2014. The movies showed girls who appeared to be 8 years old having sex with men. A Pennsylvania state trooper in September continued the investigation and found another movie featuring a naked 6-year-old girl, the complaint said.

Armed with that information, the FBI searched Nesset’s Meadville home in October 2014 and seized an external computer hard drive. An electronic search revealed more than 36,000 items of child pornography stored in one computer file alone, including more than 1,000 images or movies depicting babies or infants, Trabold said.