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Friday, August 31, 2007

Former Westport Teacher Gets 10 Years on Child Porn Charges

A federal judge in New Haven today sentenced retired Westport middle school teacher Paul Held to 10 years in prison on federal child pornography charges.paulheld75.jpg
Paul Held: collected photos of former students. File photo

U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz also ordered Held, 69, to serve a lifetime term of supervised release and pay a fine of $30,000, according to U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Connor.

When he pleaded guilty last March to one count of receipt of child pornography, federal officials called the former Bedford Middle School art teacher “one of the most prolific collectors of child pornography” ever seen in Connecticut. (See WestportNow March 26, 2007)

During today’s sentencing proceeding, it was also revealed that Held had taken and collected voyeuristic photos of young girls, including his former students, the U.S Attorney’s Office said.

Held will be required to register as a sex offender when he is released from prison, federal officials said.

As special conditions of his supervised release, the U.S. Probation Office is authorized to monitor Held’s computer use and conduct random searches of his residence, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Also, Held must not have any contact with children under the age of 18 without the supervision of an adult who is familiar with his criminal history, it said.

During his court appearance, Held apologized to his family and children whose privacy he invaded.

“I’m still a decent person deep down,” he said, his voiced choking and wiping away tears.

“The exposure of my private life is a lesson of humility and shame for all to learn from.”

Kravitz told Held he would have sentenced him to a maximum 151 months in prison if he had not cooperated in convicting a child pornographer in Colorado.

“This is a very disturbing case, and the sentence imposed today is an appropriate one for an individual who, through voyeurism, the collecting of child pornography, and other troubling behavior, victimized many young girls,” said O’Connor in a statement.

“Federal laws that target the child pornography trade exist to eliminate the victimization of children all over the world, as those who possess child pornography help to create the market for this insidious practice. We will prosecute these crimes vigorously.”

Held was initially arrested in August 2005 on federal child pornography charges after he left a CD full of child pornography in a computer he loaned to his neighbor (See WestportNow Aug. 3, 2005).

Federal officials said at the time of his arrest, Held possessed “numerous computers, compact discs, magazines, photographs and VHS tapes containing child pornography.”

They said agents seized from his home on North Avenue more than 1,000 CDs with 3,000-4,000 child pornography images on each. They also took six computers and three external hard drives.

“This defendant possessed approximately 3 to 4 million images, which, unfortunately, makes him one of the most prolific collectors of child pornography that we’ve seen here in Connecticut,” O’Connor said in March.

Held retired from teaching after 2003, according to court records.

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Posted 08/31/07 at 12:55 AM  Permalink



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