A fair sentence | AspenTimes.com

A fair sentence

How does a judge ” and how does a community ” reconcile Brad Moore’s long history of admirable community service with his possession of child pornography? How should a criminal justice system react to a case in which a gifted teacher and longtime community member was found to have perverse images and videos of children on his home computer?

There are dozens of answers to this question, of course. Convicted of possession of “sexually exploitative material,” Moore was sentenced this week to three years of supervised probation and, most likely, some kind of treatment. It’s a fairly light sentence and some certainly feel he deserved much more. We think the sentence is fair.

Moore’s case falls into an unusual gray area. He was not accused of directly harming any child. In fact, locals who spoke this week to Judge James Boyd in Moore’s defense said they still would trust Moore with their children. This would not be the case if Moore was accused of molesting an actual child.

What Moore did wrong ” and the state of Colorado recently declared it a felony ” was to have pornographic images of children on his computer. He did not pay for the images or contribute monetarily to the industry that exploits these children. But he had the images, 119 of them, on his computer.

So that’s what Brad Moore did wrong. Clearly he has a problem, although there is no evidence that he acted on any of his more twisted desires.

Now for what Brad Moore did right. A teacher in the Aspen School District for 11 years, he won awards, including teacher of the year, for his inspired work. Dozens of friends and supporters sent letters to Boyd and appeared in court Monday to praise Moore’s work as a teacher, thespian and resident. This is not just another “good guy” in the community; this is a truly exceptional person.

Who happens to have a thing for child porn.

Right and wrong aren’t easy to discern in a situation such as this one. Clearly society has an interest in protecting children from potential predators and punishing those who have harmed children. On the other hand, there’s not much to gain by locking up an offender who has not been accused of physically harming anyone, and who has contributed mightily to his community.

Brad Moore already has paid for his offenses in many ways. He has lost his teaching job, his housing and his teaching credential. He is listed on a sex offender registry, and numerous stories about his crime have been published in local newspapers. He is not allowed to have a job where he comes into contact with anyone under 18. He’ll be on supervised probation for three years.

We’re not sure there is any perfect sentence in a case such as this, but we feel Judge Boyd made a thoughtful and compassionate decision under complex circumstances. We’re glad that justice, in this case, consisted of something more enlightened than “lock him up and throw away the key.”

Brad Moore deserves a chance to get treatment ” either court-mandated or self-chosen ” and, hopefully, to get better. We hope he does.

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