Lawrence man pleads guilty to multiple counts of possessing child pornography

Michael William Wicks is pictured at a plea hearing on Sept. 29, 2023, in Douglas County District Court.

A Lawrence man pleaded guilty on Friday in Douglas County District Court to multiple counts of possessing child pornography.

The man, Michael William Wicks, 54, was charged with felony counts of sexual exploitation of a child by promoting a performance of a child under the age of 14 and aggravated internet trading in child pornography. The sexual exploitation of a child count was charged as an off-grid felony, meaning that a conviction could have resulted in life in prison. The charges relate to an incident on May 14, 2022.

As part of Wicks’ plea agreement, the charges were amended to three counts of sexual exploitation of a child under the age of 18, Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden said at Wicks’ plea hearing on Friday. Seiden said that as part of the plea Wicks has agreed to serve his time in prison. He said Wicks is already on probation in Jefferson County so the new conviction will trigger a rule that requires Wicks to serve his new sentence consecutively with his sentence in Jefferson County.

Wicks was sentenced to 32 months in prison in February 2020 after pleading no contest to sexual exploitation of a child, and that sentence was suspended to probation in Jefferson County, according to court records.

Seiden said that the Lawrence Police Department got a tip from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children that Wicks was receiving child sex abuse material through social media and saving those images to his phone. He said Wicks’ charges related to three images on his phone that depicted a child under the age of 18. He said Wicks did not create the images or know the victims in the images.

Wicks pleaded guilty to all three of the amended charges, and Judge Sally Pokorny said that he faced a minimum sentence of 31 months for each one depending on his criminal history. Wicks had previously rejected the offer just before he was set to enter his plea in September 2023, as the Journal-World reported.

His attorney, Hatem Chahine, said at that time that Wicks didn’t want to take the agreement after realizing it could result in a prison sentence over nine years long since the new convictions classify Wicks as a persistent sex offender and the minimum sentence Wicks faced, 55 months with his criminal history, would be doubled to 110 months due to Kansas’ “double double” law requiring the court to double prison sentences for persistent sex offenders.

Chahine asked the court on Friday to delay Wicks’ sentencing at least 90 days to give him time to prepare a motion for a durational departure from the Kansas sentencing guidelines, which, if granted, would mean a shorter sentence.

In addition to his pending prison sentence, Wicks is also required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and will also be on post-release supervision for the rest of his life, Pokorny said. Wicks is currently free on a $100,000 bond. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 17.


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