- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit-area man was sentenced Monday to a year in prison for possessing child pornography in a case that has been unsettled since 2009 because past light punishments were overturned.

Rufus Robinson’s case raised questions about race, wealth and disparities in sentencing. His attorney argued that other people convicted of the same crime had dodged prison at the urging of prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith sentenced Robinson to a year in prison and a year in a halfway house. He said the crime was “horrific,” but he also noted Robinson’s recovery from mental health problems since he was charged more than six years ago.

Robinson “appears to have come to grips with the wrongfulness of his conduct and has begun to put himself on a productive path,” the judge said.

Prosecutors had sought three years in prison.

The case was assigned to Goldsmith after U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow twice refused to send Robinson to prison and instead ordered years of supervision and other restrictions. An appeals court threw out those sentences.

Goldsmith asked the government to compare Robinson to Nicholas Dubin, who was convicted of possessing child pornography but wasn’t sent to prison in 2013. Dubin’s crime was partly linked to Asperger’s syndrome. He’s also the son of a law professor, and his attorney was a former high-ranking prosecutor.

“It may not be politically correct to acknowledge what everyone knows, but the welcome mat is out at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for some more than others,” Robinson’s attorney, Kim Stout, said in a court filing.

“Mr. Robinson … is a mentally impaired, poor minority, who has struggled all his life with his demons until his arrest, when he was given free treatment, and he has been able to get on the right track,” she said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Mulcahy said it was “nonsense” to say Robinson and Dubin have similar characteristics that should lead to similar sentences.

“There is no therapy that can prevent (Dubin) from being autistic, improve his interpersonal failings or provide a normal life for him,” Mulcahy said.

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Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwhiteap

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