A former Central Kentucky Boy Scout leader and volunteer teacher brought a federal courtroom to tears Friday before being sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison for taking sexually explicit photos of a teenage Scout.
Robert G. Dundon, 58, of Lexington read a statement to U.S. Senior Judge Karl S. Forester apologizing for getting "caught up in the world of child pornography."
Dundon broke down before finishing the first sentence of his statement, sobbing uncontrollably along with his parents and adult children, who were in the audience in the small courtroom. Also present were family members of his victim.
"I did terrible things. I took advantage of countless kids," Dundon said. "My life has crumbled around me."
Dundon was a Scout leader in Fayette and Estill counties, and a former volunteer at Estill County Middle School. He also owned a printing business in Irvine called Dundon's Press.
In April, Dundon pleaded guilty to charges of possession of child pornography and production of child pornography. Production of child pornography, which carries a minimum 15-year sentence, is the most serious child pornography statute used by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Dundon admitted that in June 2010 he took photographs of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. The pictures were taken at his business.
When Dundon told the judge he wished the victim were in the courtroom so he could apologize to him "face to face," the victim's family left the courtroom in tears.
The charge of possession of child pornography stemmed from 6,635 images and about 300 videos found on camera cards and computer hard drives that Dundon admitted he downloaded from the Internet, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
The children in those photos "didn't deserve to have me leering at them," Dundon told the judge.
"I always thought it was an innocent thing, a private thing," he said.
Defense attorney William Butler asked Forester to impose the minimum 15-year sentence, noting that Dundon is 58 and had served his community as a teacher and Scout leader. He was a respected businessman who was looked well upon by his neighbors and customers, he said.
Butler acknowledged Dundon's crime was serious, but said Dundon "did not distribute the pictures he took."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Hughes Thurston, who prosecuted the case, said that while there was no evidence Dundon distributed the photos, "the images produced by Mr. Dundon were taken a month before his arrest."
Thurston asked Forester to sentence Dundon to 293 months — more than 24 years — in part as a deterrent to others.
Forester questioned whether lengthy prison sentences are a deterrent to child pornography crimes when "there's obviously a mental illness component in these cases."
After talking with attorneys for about 15 minutes, Forester sentenced Dundon to 235 months in prison — 19 years and 7 months. He said he could not give Dundon the minimum sentence in part because Dundon was in a position of authority over the victim.
"We entrust our children to these people and allow them to supervise our children," Forester said. "We don't intend to put them in harm's way."
Forester then said to Dundon: "You know you need to be punished for that."