Iraq vet gets 12 years on child-porn case

An Army veteran who pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography was sentenced Friday in federal court to 12 years and seven months in prison.

Patrick Michael Reilly, 31, of Clarksville, Tenn., sent five videos of child pornography to a woman in Mercer County during online chats in January and February of 2008, according to a plea agreement. Reilly also asked a Hardin County woman to send him a disc of child pornography while he was stationed in Iraq in 2006. Reilly then asked these women to help him set up sexual encounters with children.

"I don't know how I got so far off the beaten path," Reilly said during sentencing in U.S. District Court in Lexington.

Reilly was arrested on child pornography charges in March 2008 at his home in Tennessee, according to the plea agreement. Federal investigators seized a computer that had more than 1,000 photos and about 70 videos that contained children involved in sexual acts. Some of the children involved were as young as 4 to 6 years old, the plea agreement stated.

Reilly also had been involved in more than 300 online chats with about 49 people with whom he traded child pornography, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hydee R. Hawkins said during sentencing.

Chief Judge Jennifer B. Coffman said the most important factor in the sentence she imposed was protecting children from Reilly.

"The public is in danger if I don't give a long enough sentence," she said.

Friday's court proceedings focused heavily on the motives behind Reilly's possession of child pornography. Reilly's attorney, Andrew M. Stephens, said his client, a former Army staff sergeant, began to view and distribute child pornography after he sustained injuries, including head trauma, during his last tour of duty in Iraq.

Reilly began to drink heavily, abuse prescription medications and use marijuana in August 2006, when he returned from his third deployment to Iraq, Reilly's wife, Angela A. Reilly, testified Friday.

"This is not my husband," she said. "He would have never done anything like this had he been in his right mind."

Prosecutors argued that Reilly began viewing child pornography before his last deployment.

Shannon Schaefer of Hardin County, a witness for prosecutors, said she met Reilly in a chat room in May 2006 while he was in Iraq. During a telephone conversation, Reilly asked Schaefer to send him a disc of child pornography because he couldn't take his own child pornography with him to Iraq, Schaefer testified.

"He needed some new stuff," Schaefer said.

Schaefer said Reilly told her what terms to use to search for child pornography on the file-sharing program LimeWire.

"That is a hint that he did have child pornography at home before he was deployed," Coffman said.

Schaefer eventually sent him a disc with child pornography. Because of that, she is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky.