When federal agents found a huge child pornography collection on Jeffrey W. Larson’s computer last year, Larson’s double life as law-abiding family man and pedophile unraveled.

Standing before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull for sentencing Thursday, Larson said, “I’m glad I got caught. I needed a slap in the face to make me quit.”

Larson, 46, said he was “deeply saddened” and sorry for the pain he caused his family, co-workers and friends.

“I’m sorry for the victims. I know it’s a victim crime. I’m truly sorry for that. I took responsibility. I can’t believe I did this to myself. This was shock to everybody,” Larson said.

Larson faced a sentence guideline range of 13 to 16 years in prison, but Cebull said the range was too high and sentenced him to seven years in prison and 10 years of supervised release. He also ordered Larson to register as a sex offender and to pay $2,000 restitution, which will be split between two of the victims identified in the images.

Cebull noted that Larson was a devoted husband and father, had no criminal history and had been a phlebotomist at St. Vincent Healthcare, where he had worked for more than 20 years and was well-liked by co-workers and patients.

When confronted, Larson cooperated, sought treatment and showed empathy for the victims, Cebull said.

Larson pleaded guilty in July to receiving child porn, admitting he used a password-protected file-sharing computer program to download thousands of child porn images and videos over a long period.

FBI agents served a search warrant on Larson’s residence about a year ago and seized his computer for a forensic analysis. The material included prepubescent children and images of children in sadistic, masochistic and violent abuse, all of which can increase a sentence.

FBI Special Agent Dan Vierthaler testified that in his eight years of investigating child porn cases, Larson’s child porn was “some of the worst I’ve ever seen.”

Vierthaler said he never seen a collection with such a high percentage of images of infants and toddlers. Investigators identified more than 500 known victims in 78 series of child porn, he said. One of the known victims was a young Billings girl whose case he investigated and Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia Hurd prosecuted earlier.

Hurd said investigators identified 1,986 images and 89 videos as a sampling of the material on Larson’s computer because his collection was so big.

Larson downloaded child porn that included “horrendous videos of children basically being raped by adults. This was absolutely no accident,” Hurd said.

Defense attorney Jay Lansing urged Cebull to impose the minimum mandatory term of five years in prison.

Larson had no criminal record, no history of substance abuse, confessed when confronted by FBI agents, sought and is receiving sex offender treatment and voluntarily offered to pay $2,000 restitution, which is rare, Lansing said.

An evaluation determined Larson was a low risk to re-offend and had not committed hands-on offenses, Lansing said.

Cebull allowed Larson to report to prison when he is assigned to a facility.

 

 

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Federal court and county reporter for The Billings Gazette.