January 12, 2012

Bill aims to limit jailhouse viewing of evidence by sex offenders

1-12-2012 Washington:

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A Problem Solvers investigation on child pornography viewings in jail could lead to a change in state law.

KOMO News broke the story about child porn suspect Marc Gilbert who is allowed to review the evidence against him, including child pornography, while in jail.

Gilbert is being held behind bars, and has a no-contact order with his alleged victims. But he can see them anytime he wants on video, in the form of the dozens of tapes he allegedly made himself.

"He had filmed himself having sex with minors," said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.

By law, defendants are allowed to see evidence against them. The task is normally handled by defense attorneys, but Gilbert has chosen to represent himself.

Some have alleged Gilbert chose to be his own attorney in order to view these tapes, but Gilbert denies the allegations.

"Yes, I've heard the allegations, and I think they're ridiculous," he said, adding he expects to be exonerated. "It's obviously not child rape, and it will be proven not be child rape. It's activity that was wrong, but not illegal. it's not to get your jollies."

When KOMO News brought the issue to the public's attention, there was an immediate call for laws to be changed.

"I am completely offended that Mr. Gilbert has been allowed to re-victimize the victims by reviewing that child pornography, and that served as the impetus for this bill," said Lindquist.

The bill, which received a House committee hearing on Wednesday, would strictly limit access to the child porn evidence. It would not prohibit suspects like Gilbert from seeing the evidence against him, but it would place limitations so that they would not be able to watch hours upon hours of the footage at their own leisure.

"Every time a picture is reproduced, it is even more harmful for the victim of that crime. It's further victimization, and that's what we're trying to address," said Rep. Connie Ladenburg, D-Tacoma, who is sponsoring the bill.

The bill also states the pornography cannot be copied and handed over to the defense; the defense would be shown the original to prevent copies from being leaked or posted on the Internet. ..Source.. by Keith Eldridge

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