Ex-Walt Disney Internet exec freed from jail

As was reported [AF 12/21/99], a federal

court jury convicted former Walt Disney Internet executive, 34-year-old

Patrick Naughton, of possessing child pornography, but deadlocked on

charges that he crossed state lines seeking sex with a "13-year-old girl"

which he arranged via the Internet. On Wednesday, December 22, 1999, U.S.

District Judge Edward Rafeedie reversed his own ruling and released

Naughton from jail, saying it was likely that he would win a new trial. On

Friday, December 17, 1999, a day after Naughton's conviction, the U.S. 9th

Circuit Court of Appeals overturned part of the federal Child Pornography

Prevention Act of 1996, which Naughton was convicted under, as

unconstitutional. The court found that Congress went too far when it

outlawed materials which "appear to be" or "convey the impression" that

they are sexually explicit pictures of kids. Naughton's defense argued that

higher courts typically hold that if any part of a law is found

unconstitutional, a conviction under that law can't stand. Originally on

Monday, December 20, 1999, Judge Rafeedie contested that Naughton must stay

in jail because the 9th Circuit's ruling did not apply to his case. The

judge said the appeals court's decision affected only cases involving

computer-generated images made to resemble children -- not sexually graphic

pictures of actual minors. In Naughton's case, he said, prosecutors had

proven that some of the pictures found in Naughton's computer at the time

of his arrest were of real children by tracing them to a criminal

investigation in Britain. However on Wednesday, Rafeedie finally conceded

to the defense's argument and ordered the former Internet exec freed on

$100,000 bail. Naughton was arrested September 16, 1999 on the pier in

Santa Monica, California, where he had arranged a rendezvous with "Kris,"

an under-cover FBI agent, after flying to nearby Burbank from Seattle to

attend a meeting at Disney headquarters. Naughton, who appeared in court

Wednesday handcuffed and shackled, unshaven and wearing a jail uniform, was

clearly relieved by the judge's decision. Asked by reporters how he felt,

Naughton said, "How does it look like I'm feeling? I'm glad to be out by

Christmas." Naughton also said he is looking forward to spending time

outdoors. However, he is barred under terms of his release from doing any

traveling.

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Rick DeMott
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