Archive for Thursday, February 24, 2011

Former Lawrence dance instructor Justin Kessel to serve three years’ probation for possessing child pornography

February 24, 2011


A Douglas County judge on Thursday sentenced a 29-year-old Illinois man, who was a former dance instructor at Raintree Montessori School and the Lawrence Arts Center, to serve three years on probation for possessing child pornography on his computer.

Chief Douglas County District Judge Robert Fairchild questioned the effectiveness of the sex offender treatment program with the Kansas Department of Corrections and instead ordered Justin Kessel, who has since moved away from Lawrence, to undergo therapy while on probation.

“I think the best hope we have for protecting the community is to place him on probation to require that he continue with therapy,” Fairchild said.

Kessel pleaded no contest to one count of sexual exploitation of a child in July after prosecutors accused him of having child pornography images and videos on a flash drive from December 2006 to January 2007.

Kessel’s defense attorney, Angela Keck, had asked Fairchild to give him probation. Michael Allen, an assistant district attorney, argued Kessel should serve nearly three years in prison.

Kessel said during the hearing he had an addiction to adult pornography and that child pornographic images came up during his online searches and downloading of files.

“If I saw anything like that, it was only for a second or two,” Kessel said.

He said he planned to turn himself in to police in January, but his former girlfriend had called officers before he did.

Scott Slifer, a Lawrence police detective, said one video taken from Kessel’s thumb drive depicted an adult male molesting an underage girl.

“It was and is the worse piece of child pornography I have ever seen,” said Slifer, who regularly investigates computer crimes, including child pornography cases.

Robert Barnett, a clinical psychologist, said he did not believe Kessel had exhibited the behavior of a sexual predator or pedophile.

Allen argued Kessel had put himself in a position to be around children at his job as a dance instructor, but Keck said there was no evidence in the case that Kessel had touched any children.

Fairchild ordered Kessel’s therapist to give regular reports to probation officers, and he must submit his computer to police for routine testing. Kessel is also prohibited from working or volunteering with children and must register as a sex offender.

“I’m thoroughly convinced this is serious and could have gone the wrong way real quick if he hadn’t been caught,” Fairchild said. “So, frankly, that’s the best thing that happened in all of this, that he got caught before it got worse.”


Matt Schwartz 7 years, 4 months ago

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Thats_messed_up 7 years, 4 months ago

Can't mention the Judge's name huh LJW??? Another pathetic ruling. The detective said it was the worst he had ever seen on his thumb drive-that's child rape. I did 12 months probation for buying beer at the age of 20!

jayhawkstalk 7 years, 4 months ago

That is disgusting. As the parent of several small children, I am disgusted that someone like that could be teaching them dance, or in their vicinity. When are we going to figure out that therapy never works. They never stop. I had a conversation once with a sex crime expert, and he said that it never ends with them. The therapy will help them combat the urges that never go away. And that with a sex predator, it is never "if" is always "when". Makes me sick.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 4 months ago

Those generalizations are not always true. I have a friend who is a registered sex offender, and I'd trust him with anyone or anything.

However, his problem wasn't little kids: he had sex with a teen when he was about 20 years old.

What concerns me is that this guy had a thumbdrive with a video on it, yet he claims he didn't really use it or know about it. Thumbdrives back then were kind of small, so I don't think I buy his story that he used THAT much space on a drive for content that he never knew was there or never looked at. That's hard to believe.

mal9780 7 years, 4 months ago

Yeah it has been 4 years & very hard on him. As a friend of Justin's I can honestly say that he's a good & decent person & hasn't hurt anyone but himself in all of this. As for that file that's the worst they ever saw. He couldn't even open it & neither could his expert.

Also I doubt that things would have gotten worse if he wasn't "caught." He was going to turn himself in & for the past year has been driving like 9 hours one way for every court date. He's even got half way there only to have it rescheduled.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 4 months ago

"hasn't hurt anyone but himself in all of this"

There is one reason why people make child porn: so that someone can look at it. Every time someone produces child porn, it is because there is a market for that content. By being willing to look at it (even if he never paid money for it) he's encouraging the ongoing production of child porn.

Indirectly, HE'S responsible for what happened on that video.

I'm sorry for your friend's troubles. I have known many men with compulsive sexual behaviors (myself included) and I know how hard it can be to address such a problem. But he really needed to address his problems before he became a perpetrator by owning child porn.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 4 months ago

There was a case here a year or so ago where two teenagers had sex before marriage and the man was placed on the sex offender list "for life". They are now married and have childern and the childern are discriminated against because their father is a "sex offender".

Teenagers are now being prosecuted for this "sexting" stuff for acting like stupid kids. . This is the sort of collateral damage that happens when we let hysterical law makers and equally virulant constituants try to grandstand and make laws to "really get these guys". True there are dangerous predators on these lists but because of the shotgun and wide sweeping nature of this law there are also people dumped on the sex offender registry by judges in reponse to these over-reactive and stupidly crafted laws. And the evening news loves it, it never fails to make the flashing red headlines of many newscasts these days.

sickofdummies 7 years, 4 months ago

While I have to agree that teen sex is totally different than rape or sexual abuse, what teenage boy is not taught 'fifteen will get you twenty'? Law makers have to draw a line. They can not be vague, and laws are not a secret. If someone chooses to break that law, even it they are 'acting like stupid kids,' they have to pay the price. Its time for everyone, even stupid kids, to have to take responsibility for their actions, unfortunate as those actions may be. It is sad that innocent children are persecuted for the crimes of their parents, but that's really something that the parents should have considered beforehand.

No offense intended to your friend. However, we do not live in a society where we are at liberty to determine which laws should be followed, and which should not. Do, if you know the law, you are obliged to follow it, no matter how silly you make think it is.

LA4evr27 6 years, 9 months ago

I wonder where Justin is now? He is a great guy from when we had talked to each other a long time ago.

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