Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Curry gets five years probation for child porn

by Rob Ireland

September 08, 2011

ELKHORN — The case against a former Civil Air Patrol Commander began when he was found in a car in Caledonia with a 16-year-old girl.

The young girl's concerned neighbor called law enforcement, but before police could arrive, Michael A. Curry, 55, contacted law enforcement and told them not to worry because he is the girl's father.

Police came to the scene anyway and eventually learned Curry wasn't the father of the girl, who was a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol.

After this incident, on Sept. 15, 2009, law enforcement searched Curry's home and found child pornography on his computer.

On July 8, Curry pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography. On Sept. 8, Judge John Race sentenced Curry to five years of probation and 90 days in jail with work release privileges.

Curry also will have to register as a sex offender.

During the sentencing, Race said the crime is a serious offense and that it had to include time in the Walworth County Jail.

During his allocution, a soft-spoken Curry took responsibility for his actions.

"I'm asking for mercy because I've done wrong," Curry said. "It is incumbent of the court to punish me as it sees fit."

Curry said several years ago he became addicted to pornography, and during that addiction he downloaded child pornography.

"It was a very dark time in my life. It's hard to describe how unpleasant it felt," Curry said. "I don't ever want to be that person again."

As part of a plea agreement, District Attorney Phil Koss could argue the seriousness of the case, but couldn't make a sentencing recommendation.

After the case came to light, several women, who were cadets in the Civil Air Patrol, came forward stating Curry acted inappropriately around them when they were underage.

However, Connie King, a lieutenant with the Civil Air Patrol, who spoke on behalf of Curry, said she doesn't believe Curry has ever acted inappropriately with any of the female cadets.

"The reason nothing has ever been recorded is because nothing has ever happened," King said. She called the letters written by the former cadets "questionable."

Curry said the claim he acted inappropriately with the young cadets came out of "left field."

However, he admitted to having a sexual relationship with one of the girls after she turned 18.

The Department of Justice accessed the illegal images on deleted space on Curry's hard drive, Koss said.

The Department of Justice also was able to find e-mails sent to Curry thanking him for joining web sites with names that could contain child pornography.

Joseph Dunlap, a computer expert hired by the defense, stated the websites that Curry joined were now mostly defunct.

One of the sites, showed images from a nudist colony, which Koss argued was a way for adults to see images of naked children.

Curry denied paying for child pornography with his credit card.

"I would never expose my credit card to child pornography sites. That goes beyond arrogant, that would be stupid," he said.

Curry's defense attorney, Jeffrey Murrell, said his client has taken steps to get his addiction to pornography under control.

In a move that surprised Murrell, the state located an adult woman, who appears in some of the illegal images found on Curry's computer as a child.

The girl, who is considered a victim in the case, wrote a letter to Race, which states how the images affect her life.

"Reading her story, it actually brought tears to my eyes and I feel it affected my client similarly," Murrell said.

A friend of Curry also told police she may have accidentally downloaded some of the illegal images.

The woman claimed the images may have come onto the computer when she downloaded a tool bar.

The woman claimed after she downloaded the tool bar, child pornography images appeared on the screen.

Race dismissed this explanation, comparing it to the Rose Mary Woods' explanation of the missing 18 minutes of Water Gate tapes, before he handed out his sentence.