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Winters sentenced to prison for possession of child pornography - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

Winters sentenced to prison for possession of child pornography

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Cassidy Winters of Great Falls, 29 years old, was sentenced on Thursday to 28 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release for possession of child pornography. Cassidy Winters of Great Falls, 29 years old, was sentenced on Thursday to 28 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release for possession of child pornography.
GREAT FALLS -

Cassidy Winters of Great Falls, 29 years old, was sentenced on Thursday to 28 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release for possession of child pornography.  Winters will also be required to pay $12,500 in restitution for six victims.  

Federal District Court Judge Brian M. Morris issued the sentence.

Winters was charged by superseding information on February 17, 2016.  

In documents filed with the court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee Peterson stated that, if required to prove its case at trial, the government was prepared to introduce evidence that Winters possessed multiple files containing child pornography between December 2012 and May 2015. 

In March 2015, agents from the U.S. Secret Service and the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force downloaded files from an IP address as part of an online investigation to identify individuals sharing child porn over the Internet using a peer to peer file sharing network.  They identified the registered subscriber of the IP address as Winters and obtained a search warrant for his home.

On May 27, 2015, agents served the warrant and seized several computers and digital devices from Winters’ bedroom.  The items were forensically analyzed and contained image and video files depicting children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.  The agents also recovered search terms connected to the software that indicated Winters had sought out known images and series of child pornography.  

At the sentencing, a witness testified that Winters had engaged in this criminal conduct for five or six years. 

A sentencing memorandum in the case states:

The seriousness of this offense is difficult to overstate. Traders of child pornography are members of a community of deviant individuals who revel in watching the sexual abuse of young and vulnerable children. In the case of Defendant Winters, this includes very young children. For those with a sexual interest in children, the internet provides a tailor-made medium for acquiring the latest and most hardcore of child pornography images and may set those with such an interest on a path toward physical sexual abuse of children. It also functions as a normalizing force for those interested in the sexual abuse of children.

The fact that the children suffer the sexual abuse in the first place is a horrible reality, but add to that the continued exploitation of such children by persons like the defendant for his own disturbing gratification and it becomes a never-ending tragedy. Distribution, receipt and consumption of child pornography have enduring and profound effects on the victims. 

The sentence in this case must constitute a loud message to other offenders that serious consequences will result for such callous disregard of minor victims. Although he has no criminal history (like the majority of child pornography defendants who have previously come before this Court) and no study can predict the likelihood of recidivism of a particular defendant, the defendant may well pose a future danger to his young victims, as demonstrated by his repeated illegal acts that exploited the most vulnerable segment of our societies.

A sentencing memorandum submitted by Winters' attorney includes the following information: 

Before the end of June of 2015, Cassidy voluntarily enrolled in a sex offender treatment program. This was in the time frame when he was being investigated and no charges had been filed. For the past year, Cassidy has continued with this program. He has shared the fact he is in counseling, as well as the nature and benefits of the treatment program, with virtually all of his family, his employers, and his friends.

A mistake does not define a person’s character. How one deals with the mistake reveals who he really is. From the beginning, Cassidy faced his family and friends and admitted his wrongdoing. He sought, obtained, and is committed to sex offender treatment. With the support of his family and his community, Cassidy has proven that he can be, will be, and is a law abiding citizen.

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