Lexington house forfeited in child-porn case


aclark@herald-leader.comOctober 21, 2009 

A Lexington man must spend more than 15 years in prison and forfeit his Chevy Chase home after pleading guilty to child pornography charges, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Joseph Robert Leitner, 62, pleaded guilty in June to one charge of receiving child pornography. He admitted collecting child pornography for years and had computers and CDs that contained more than 30,000 images of child pornography, some involving children as young as 6, according to his plea agreement. There were approximately 100 CDs and several computers seized during the search of Leitner's residence in June 2008.

Senior Judge Karl S. Forester sentenced Leitner Tuesday to 188 months in prison. The federal government will also seize Leitner's home at 417 Cochran Road because of the high volume of images and the length of time Leitner used his home to download and view child pornography.

Leitner is the first defendant to forfeit his home because of a child pornography conviction in the Eastern District of Kentucky, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hydee R. Hawkins, who prosecuted Leitner, said the sentence sends a message to child predators that "we are going to take the very place you used to exploit children."

Leitner said during sentencing that he had not downloaded or watched child pornography since 2000.

"They probably were dusty as the devil when you guys found them," Leitner said of the CDs seized from his home. "I hadn't watched them in years."

The case against Leitner started after another man, David M. Allen, ordered child pornography in 2006 from a federal postal inspector working undercover, according to court documents. When police went to investigate, Leitner answered the door at the home on Cochran Road, according to a court document.

Allen was charged last year with attempting to receive child pornography, possessing child porn and using a minor to produce pornography. As part of a plea agreement, Allen testified against Leitner during sentencing Tuesday.

Allen lived with Leitner on and off for more than two years. Allen testified that he stumbled across a collection of child pornography on Leitner's computer in 2002. Allen told Leitner that he had "similar interests" and Leitner allowed Allen to transfer files to his computer, Allen testified.

Leitner told Allen he had child pornography because he was trying to track down child predators, Allen testified.

"I didn't believe it at the time and still don't believe it," he said.

A man who said he was molested by Leitner more than 50 years ago also testified during Tuesday's sentencing.

Another man testified that Leitner molested him for six years, beginning when he was 3.

Reach Ashlee Clark at (859) 231-1443 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 1443.

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