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Park City man gets prison for child porn, must pay victim restitution

Published September 12, 2013 9:34 pm

Courts • Michael L. Dunn is sentenced to 12 years in prison.
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A Park City man who had a decorated career with the U.S. Army and the Utah National Guard will spend 12 years in federal prison on child pornography charges, a federal judge decided Thursday.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby also ordered Michael Loren Dunn to make restitution of the full amount outstanding on a $1.3 million judgment in favor of one of the victims — $583,955, which Shelby said he was obligated to do given an appellate court decision in another case.

Prosecutors had asked Shelby to send Dunn to prison for between 17½ and approximately 22 years. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Vincent said that while evaluations showed Dunn was at low risk of re-offending, he had engaged in other inappropriate conduct — including inappropriate interaction with a female student at a middle school where he once worked and having an online extramarital relationship while deployed to Iraq with the Utah National Guard — that showed a pattern of misbehavior.

Kimberly J. Trupiano, who represented Dunn, asked Shelby to sentence her client to a five-year term, enough time to punish him and allow him to get treatment for his addiction to pornography and then return to his family to again become a productive member of society.

Dunn, 44, was indicted in September 2012 on three child pornography offenses. Following a five-day trial in January, a federal jury found Dunn guilty of possession, receipt and distribution of child pornography.

Images and video of pre-pubescent children engaged in sexually explicit conduct were found among hundreds of files Dunn downloaded between Jan. 11, 2007, and Feb. 20, 2009, with no files found during the time he was in Iraq.

Trupiano said Dunn inadvertently downloaded the child pornography while capturing hundreds of images of adults found by searching such key words as "girls gone wild" and immediately deleted them when he realized what they contained — an explanation Shelby said he did not find credible.

Paul Cassell, a former federal judge who is now a law professor, has represented a victim known as Vicky, who has sought restitution in 477 cases prosecuted to date.

Vicky was awarded $1.3 million in an initial case for past and future counseling, educational and vocational counseling, lost earnings, and expenses related to her legal cases.

So far Vicky has received approximately $716,000, and is seeking to capture the rest of the restitution from others convicted of possessing or distributing her images.

On Thursday, Shelby allowed Jade Fisher, a student in Cassell's crime victims class at the University of Utah law school, to read an excerpt of Vicky's victim impact statement. Vicky, now 21, learned four years ago that video of her father sexually abusing her during childhood were circulating on the Internet.

"I am living every day with the horrible knowledge that someone somewhere is watching the most terrifying moments of my life and taking grotesque pleasure in them," Fisher read on behalf of Vicky. "I wish I could one day feel completely safe, but as long as these images are out there, I never will. Every time they are downloaded, I am exploited again, my privacy is breached, and my life feels less and less safe."

Shelby agreed with Cassell's argument that, as a distributor of Vicky's images who made them available to thousands, Dunn should bear responsibility for the remaining sum. He'll be liable for whatever amount is not collected from other defendants.

In a court brief, Cassell argued the same principle applied to Dunn that was used in a New York case in which surviving family members of the 9/11 terrorist attacks successfully sued Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, the Republic of Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for more than $30 million for wrongful death, lost wages and damages.

Cassell said that holding each defendant "jointly and severably" liable was important, among other reasons, because many defendants are indigent and victims' losses are substantial. Dunn's culpability is significant, Cassell said, because rather than merely view the images he made them available to others on the Internet.

Dunn addressed the court and said he was "deeply sorry and "deeply ashamed" of his actions. "I know that what I've done has hurt a lot of people and I'm very sorry for that," he said, often crying, as his wife Stephanie and a son looked on from the gallery.

Dunn said he had struggled most of his adult life with a pornography addiction but denied any sexual interest in children and said he had not intentionally sought to share those images.

"I can't even express how sorry I am," he said.