A child and adolescent psychiatrist suspended from Billings Clinic who reported to investigators that he had a collection of child pornography is facing federal charges.
An information filed Monday in U.S. District Court charges Dr. James H. Peak with one count of possessing child porn. The crime carries a penalty of maximum of 10 years in prison, a maximum $250,000 fine and from five years to a lifetime of supervised release.
Peak’s attorney, Jay Lansing of Billings, declined to comment on the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Fehr, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, also declined to comment.
A court date has not yet been set for Peak’s appearance.
A plea agreement filed along with the information said Peak will plead guilty to possession of child porn.
The agreement calls for the prosecutor to recommend a downward departure from the sentencing guideline range because of Peak’s “extraordinary acceptance of responsibility.” The agreement does not specify a guideline range.
Peak, who had worked at Billings Clinic since 1994, reported himself to the Billings FBI office in February, saying he had received a mailing that offered child porn for sale, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia Hurd in court documents.
Peak then admitted to a U.S. Postal Service inspector that he had a collection of child porn that he had received through the mail and that “it was an interest he had fought for many years,” Hurd said.
Peak described how he led a dual life — one at home and one at work. He would collect child porn, then destroy the collection, numerous times over the years, Hurd said.
Peak was relieved finally to talk about it and consented to a search of his residence and “was extremely helpful” in collecting and identifying all of the material, including credit card statements that confirmed his purchases, the prosecutor said.
The inspector found numerous movies that contained child porn, but the material was not the graphic images found in most child porn cases, Hurd said.
Hurd said there was no child porn on Peak’s computer and no evidence he had used the Internet to find or save child porn.
Most child porn cases involve people using computers to receive, possess or distribute the material.
After talking with authorities, Peak voluntarily surrendered his medical license, notified his employer and entered and successfully completed a 90-day inpatient treatment program in Texas, Hurd said.
Peak also passed a polygraph exam confirming that he had not had any hands-on contract with children, she said. After completing treatment in Texas, Peak enrolled in sexual-offender treatment in Billings and is attending meetings of 12-step programs.
The plea agreement also said that Peak will be required to register as a sex offender.
The prosecutor further agreed that there are “exceptional circumstances” that would allow Peak to remain free until sentencing but does not identify the circumstances.
The case is assigned to Senior U.S. District Judge Jack Shanstrom.
Peak was one of four child and adolescent psychiatrists practicing at Billings Clinic. Upon learning of the investigation, Billings Clinic immediately suspended Peak and he was reported to the medical regulatory authorities, Dr. Mark Rumans, Billings Clinic’s physician in chief, said earlier.
Billings Clinic conducted an independent internal review and requested a review of patient charts by outside physicians. Neither revealed any patient complaints or child porn on Peak’s work computer, Rumans said.
“Billings Clinic was not part of the investigation,” said Julie Burton, clinic spokeswoman. “We are focused on our patients. We are available as needed.”
Billings Clinic opened a Patient Resource Center and staffed it with a clinic liaison to answer questions about the matter in person and to help parents and guardians and patients.
Families of Peak’s patients may call 657-4681 or 877-827-0516 for questions or to schedule an appointment with the Patient Resource Center.