Brian Fortner and Graham Drewes Cases Highlight Sentencing Disparities in Child-Porn Cases

fortner-bag-contents.jpg
Arizona AG's Office
Contents of Brian Fortner's duffel bag.
Brian Fortner, a Peoria man whose duffel bag with child porn and his wallet was found in a dumpster last year, was sentenced last week to 14 years in prison.

Meanwhile, a plea agreement guarantees that another Valley resident, Graham Roberts Drewes, will serve only two-to-four years in prison for what amounts to the exact same crime.

The difference is that Fortner was caught and tried by the state, while Drewes lucked out, you could say, because his case was handled by federal authorities.

See also:
- Brian Fortner Pegged by MCSO as Owner of Duffel Bag Full of Kiddie Porn -- Because He Left His Driver's License in It

Drewes' case might have been worse. Fortner's dirty duffel bag contained 100 printed child-porn images and hours of videos of girls' cheerleading and dancing routines, which weren't child porn. Drewes' plea agreement says 1,436 images and 86 videos of child porn were found on his computer.

At least one of Drewes' downloaded videos were really sick stuff, too -- a tied-up pre-adolescent girl performing oral sex not just on an adult man, but on a dog, too. Through a different investigation into the production of the video, (which had nothing to do with Drewes, who apparently just watched it), authorities were able to identify the girl, records state.

Both Drewes, a licensed pest-control worker for Terminix, and Fortner will receive lifetime probation after they get out of prison. Drewes will find out at his sentencing hearing, now set for November 19, just how much time he'll be getting. But even in a worse-case scenario, he'll be getting out long before Fortner's truly settled in.

We left messages this morning with the offices of the state Attorney General, which handled Fortner's case, and the U.S. Attorney's Office, which prosecuted Drewes. Here's what Horne's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, had to say:


"The Arizona legislature has enacted more severe sentencing guidelines for cases involving child pornography. Additionally, the Arizona sexual exploitation statute lumps together distribution, creation and possession of child pornography whereas the feds, I believe, distinguish between these actions."


One last, weird thing about Drewes case. It apparently began with an investigation by the Department of Defense -- which we find sort of ironic, given the big story from a few years ago about dozens of DOD employees looking at child porn.

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10 comments
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I know One of the guys for a long time and man I didn't see this coming at all.

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

'Course now, it could have gone either way for both defendants. The County Attorney and the U.S. Attorney often get together to decide who takes what case. It's all the same whether it's a drug case or kiddie porn. Whichever prosecutor can screw the defendant the most often gets the case. And don't forget that if you're convicted in Federal Court, are sentenced to 5 years for instance, you'll do the whole nickel, unlike in state court where you can be out in 2 1/2.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

The difference is the gravity of the offenses and the number of counts - and by your description above those are big differences; more so than just the prosecuting agency.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

The goal of Arizona law is to punish people who disgust the voters.  Nothing to do with whether or how much actual harm is done to any victim.


JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative   Disagree with you.  Porn, like any other business, is supply and demand.  If there is demand, there will be supply.  If you can reduce the demand, you can reduce the supply and as you reduce the supply you also reduce the number of victims that were forced to participate in the making of the videos.  You think that this girl isn't a victim: "a tied-up pre-adolescent girl performing oral sex not just on an adult man, but on a dog, too."  You think she thought that up herself?  You think she said 'hey, this will be fun, why don't I....."   She was put in that position because there's a market to sell that video to someone like Drewes.  If you reduce the buyers then you reduce the manufacturers and if you reduce the manufacturers you reduce the number of girls like this that are victimized.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative.  I did, in fact, completely miss that.  Thanks for pointing that out.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public  

That girl obviously is a victim, but the law doesn't care.

It's just exactly as illegal to view a computer generated image of a young girl who never existed and so was not victimized.

 

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public  

I doubt you'll be the only one to miss it.  Lately I've been noticing how authors use clues to help readers keep the characters straight.  Not enough of those clues here.

I suppose it would be easier if Stern was allowed to make up his own character names.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative  "authorities were able to identify the girl, records state."  The law does care and the ultimate goal, at least I hope, is to identify and locate the producers so as to rescue their victims and prevent them from victimizing more children.  Hopefully reducing the number of buyers also reduces the demand and consequently reduces the frequency that children are victimized like this.

(of course, if the success is anything like the success that law enforcement has had in the "war on drugs" I'm not holding my breath).

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