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Archive for Thursday, February 11, 1999

PLEA HEARING SET FOR CONVICTED PORNOGRAPHER

February 11, 1999

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A plea hearing is set later this month for Christopher J. Saemisch, a convicted child pornographer who faces child molestation charges.

Douglas County Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney Tonkovich said Wednesday that the plea hearing for Saemisch would be 4 p.m. Feb. 19 in Judge Michael Malone's courtroom.

"All I can tell you is that it's scheduled for a plea," Tonkovich said. "I don't know what that means other than that's the kind of hearing it's set for."

Saemisch, 41, is accused of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, or engaging in "lewd fondling or touching" on Feb. 10, 1996, with a 5-year-old girl.

He was one of 16 people charged in connection with the "Orchid Club" child pornography ring, and U.S. marshals arrested him in June 1996 in Lawrence. In May 1997, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sexually exploit and aiding and abetting in the sexual exploitation of a 10-year-old girl, conspiracy to traffic in child pornography and sending and receiving child pornography.

He is serving a federal prison sentence of 11 years without parole, but officials transported him from a penitentiary in El Reno, Okla., to the Douglas County Jail to face the state charge filed by local prosecutors.

Saemisch admitted in federal court he had been a member of the Orchid Club and had repeatedly sexually exploited a 5-year-old girl, the U.S. attorney's office in San Jose, Calif., said last year.

In September, U.S. Customs Service made worldwide raids on a child pornography ring dubbed the "Wonderland Club." Police seized a computer in Lawrence during the investigation.

U.S. Customs agent Jim Lewis of Kansas City, Mo., said then that the Orchid Club case involving Saemisch had spurred the Wonderland Club investigation.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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