With trial scheduled to begin only nine days later, charges of child sex abuse against Robert Koenig, 63, were dismissed at the prosecution’s request, motivated by the discovery of new evidence following Mr. Koenig’s indictment some six months earlier.
Mr. Koenig faced two counts of gross sexual imposition and one count of rape under that indictment. Those charges stemmed from Koenig’s role as a foster parent, a role he and his wife had shared for five years by the time Mr. Koenig was first charged.
When it learned of the abuse allegations, the official licensing agency, Lucas County Children Services, began the process of removing the Koenigs from the foster care program. The Koenigs, however, withdrew voluntarily before that removal process was completed.
Mr. Koenig had been a teacher for the Toledo Public Schools from 1975 to 2010, spending most of his career in middle schools. He worked as a substitute teacher in that school system for three years until his retirement in 2013.
According to Frank Spryszak, the assistant county prosecutor who sought the dismissal, his action was driven by the discovery of new evidence “that put us in a position that we no longer felt that we had sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.”
Lorin Zaner, the attorney defending Mr. Koenig, describes himself as a leading child sexual conduct with a minor lawyer with a particular interest in false abuse allegations. He said that the dismissal came as a great relief to his client. “We had the documentation to show that there’s no way our guy could’ve done what they said,” he said.
At the same time, he called attention to the negative consequences of the allegations for Mr. and Mrs. Koenig, a state of affairs that may be familiar to him as a sex crimes lawyer. “They truly had a desire to help children. To be in a position of being falsely accused because you put yourself out there to help children is a tragedy because these are good people. Their names are drug through the mud. Why do you want to put yourself in that position? It’s terrible.”
Mr. Koenig had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and he had been released on $300,000 bond after appearing before Court of Common Pleas Judge Ruth Ann Franks, the same judge who later heard the prosecution’s request to dismiss all charges.
File sharing has been a big part of the counter-culture of legal and illegal music and movie downloads in the United States. Many file sharing programs that allowed the free flow of copyrighted files like Limewire, Napster, Bearshare, Frostwire, and the like have long been shut down by the U.S. Government (or switched their business models), but new software springs up all the time. For example, as soon as Limewire was shut down, Frostwire came out and today the most prevelant Peer to Peer software of today is bit Torrent. The cycle keeps repeating as bit torrent sites like The Pirate Bay, Demonoid, and others have faced government seizures of their physical servers located in other countries. The government may not be able to completely shut down all of the file-sharing software as it continues to morph into different models that make it undetectable. Many people praise these programs as means to download and own files for free that they would otherwise have to pay for, but what these people don’t realize is the inherent danger of downloading files from anonymous sources and sharing the same files out to strangers: namely, child pornography.
Here is a graphic showing the old way file sharing networks worked by each user connecting through a centralized server which is how the government was able to stop them, by legally choking off the central server:
And here is a graphic showing bit Torrent Peer to Peer networks where the user downloads and opens a torrent file which then connects the user to the peers who are seeding the files:
One of the most important issues among the file sharing community in recent years has been the prosecutions relating to the possession and distribution of child pornography. Many of the defendants that have hired a child pornography lawyer in these cases said that they were not even aware of the images that were stored on their computers. Images of child porn can be downloaded to your computer through a series of Trojan horses or by blindly downloading an entire directory that is shared with you through one of these peer to peer services. One common method of sharing child porn is the intentional mislabeling of filenames. For example, you may download a video named “Die Hard” thinking that you are getting a movie about Bruce Willis. Upon download, you might open the file and instead of finding a movie you find that it is actually hundreds or thousands of images of child pornography. Images of child porn are sometimes inserted into otherwise normal video files and may even go unnoticed by the person downloading the file. This example proves that you cannot be sure what is actually contained in the files you are downloading, which increases the risk of using any peer to peer file sharing software or methods. Remember, there is no file certification process since most of these files (movies, ebooks, software, etc) are being downloaded and shared illegally.
The most common way people are convicted of possession of child pornography, is by their permanent storage on your hard drive even after deleting it in several locations. With file sharing programs, the downloaded files go automatically into two folders: “Saved” and “Shared”. A third folder is created for “Incomplete or Temp Files” that a lot of people are unaware of. Files are labeled incomplete when they are deleted halfway through. You may not even be able to open these files, but the government can, and will attempt to prosecute and convict you for the possession of illegal images of children regardless of the folder they reside in.
The second charge of distribution of child pornography comes when you allow the program to share your files with other users. You may be doing this unknowingly as most file-sharing programs select this sharing option as a default setting. Even if you are unaware that the files you are sharing contain child porn, this act of sharing constitutes distribution.
So how does law enforcement track the child porn files? The government tracks files and images of child porn by looking at hash values. A hash value is the number of pixels a file contains. The government and law enforcement often knows the hash value of popular or commonly-shared child porn images. Any time that file is shared or downloaded; the government is alerted to the IP address of the user. They thereby obtain a search warrant and go about finding said files on your computer, upon which they arrest the user.
There are conspiracy theories out there that the government uses images of child porn to set people up for conviction. People use this to explain the surge of conviction among political rivals and other important people in society. This ruins their reputation and labels them a sex offender for the rest of their lives. Though this rumor does not have much traction, it is wise to avoid the possibility altogether by abstaining from P2P file sharing sites.
Here is a video David Michael Cantor made when Limewire was in the news in Oct 2010:
Every state in the US has laws regarding the possession and distribution of child pornography. For example, here in Arizona the law is A.R.S §13-3553“Sexual Exploitation of a Minor” (i.e. “Child Pornography”) and it is a class two (2) felony. In Arizona, the minimum prison term is 10 years per image, if convicted. If you are facing child pornography charges, it’s a good idea to find yourself a defense attorney who has experience with these types of cases and also works with a good computer forensics expert.
If you have legal questions about Sexual Exploitation of a Minor and Child Pornography possession and distribution, please give our office a call at (602) 307-0808. If you are in the pre-charge phase or have already been charged, please call us for a free case review. The free consultation will last about 30 minutes and one of our defense attorneys will give you their professional opinion with your case.
Today David Michael Cantor, a Sex Crime Defense Lawyer, based in Phoenix, AZ, discusses Child Pornography Cases and Computer Forensics.
As David mentioned in last years video post about Limewire closing down, more people are finding themselves on the wrong end of the law because of various file sharing programs. Almost immediately after Limewire closed the network was shifted over to Frostwire allowing people to continue to download files from other users computers easily and with unforeseen dangers. As David explains again, but in more detail in this video, when you download files from other peoples computers it is very easy to unknowingly download child pornography and other files that can result in decades of prison time.
In this video David goes into further technical detail about how various files end up on your computer. Even when you delete a file from your computer there can still be parts of the file on your computer that can be used as evidence against you.
If you do find yourself or someone you know in trouble for this type of activity it is important that you get competent and experienced legal representation. It is also critical that a computer forensics expert be involved as well.