- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 8, 2007

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A man who for 12 years served as president of the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union was sentenced to seven years in prison yesterday for downloading what authorities said was some of the worst child pornography they have ever seen.

The prison term imposed on Charles Rust-Tierney, 52, of Arlington, was a year less than the minimum sentence suggested under federal sentencing guidelines. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III gave Rust-Tierney credit for what he said was “an otherwise exemplary life” that included decades of service as a public defender in the District representing the mentally ill.


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Several dozen people wrote letters to the judge on Rust-Tierney’s behalf, and more than 20 people attended yesterday’s hearing in support of him.

Still, the sentence was more than the five-year term requested by defense attorneys.



Rust-Tierney was president of the ACLU’s Virginia chapter from 1993 to 2005 and served as a youth sports coach in Arlington. There is no evidence that he ever had improper contact with children, despite a thorough investigation by Arlington police after his arrest in February.

Judge Ellis said the pornography downloaded by Rust-Tierney “was of the most abhorrent kind,” including torture and sexual assaults on children as young as 6.

Rust-Tierney paid hundreds of dollars to subscribe to multiple illegal child pornography Web sites at least as far back as 2004, authorities said. When he was arrested, police found roughly 850 still images and 36 videos of child pornography.

During yesterday’s hearing, Rust-Tierney said depression and “plummeting self-esteem” led him astray.

“I know what I have done is wrong, morally and legally,” he said. “My conduct in paying the producers of this material is reprehensible. I am filled with contrition, remorse and shame.”

Prosecutor Edward McAndrew urged Judge Ellis to impose an eight-year sentence, in line with federal sentencing guidelines. He suggested in court papers that many of Rust-Tierney’s supporters would be less likely to stand with him had they seen the type of pornography Rust-Tierney harbored.

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