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TMCNet:  Former House GOP staffer faces more child-porn charges

[January 25, 2013]

Former House GOP staffer faces more child-porn charges

RORY KOCH, Jan 25, 2013 (Star Tribune (Minneapolis) - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- who was running for Ramsey County commissioner while under investigation for possessing child pornography -- went to court on Friday trying to get his case dismissed.

Instead, he learned that the state plans to file more charges against him.

Judge Edward Wilson rejected the defense contention that simply viewing files does not constitute possession, and he set the matter on for trial for late February.

Koch, 39, served as a committee administrator for the Minnesota House Republican caucus when charged last March with 12 counts of possessing child pornography. He's since lost his job.

Not only is he charged this week in Ramsey County District Court with those 12 counts of possession of child pornography, but prosecutor Karen Kugler said she's now deciding how many more counts to file against him next week.

She could file up to 56 more counts because there were a total of 68 images allegedly found on his computer, though prosecutors typically don't file a count for every single image found.

The charges filed on March 1 came long after investigators seized two Dell computer towers from his St. Paul apartment in September 2010 and began their forensic probes of his computer use.

A criminal complaint alleges that he possessed pornography of both naked, prepubscent boys and girls showing their genitalia and sometimes in sexually suggestive positions.

When charged, Koch was a candidate for a seat on the Ramsey County Board, and he went on to receive 25 percent of the vote in an unsuccessful bid to unseat Fourth District incumbent Toni Carter.

The child-porn investigation was not public knowledge at the time.

Friday, Koch's attorney, Timothy Webb, argued that the case should be dismissed because simply viewing child pornography does not constitute possession under state law. Webb maintained that Koch didn't share or save the files, which would constitute possession, and that around the country, other courts have reached the same conclusion.

Webb said after Koch looked at the images, they were stored temporarily in the cache, which he could not access, and had never been served to the common area of the computer.

The defense attorney used the analogy of someone walking down a sidewalk and seeing a photo of child porn on a bulletin board. If that person views it but walks on, the person doesn't possess it. But if he or she takes it down and takes it with them, that would constitute possession.

The same holds true for images viewed on a computer, Webb said.

The judge noted, however, that the state alleges Koch searched out and possessed files, as well as emails he received indicating he was interesting in child porn, with wording such as "We love boys" and "male pedos," among others.

The judge also noted that the evidence indicates that not only did Koch send the files to others early on, but also to himself.

The state maintains that the images were found in different parts of the computer, not just the cache, hence the decision to file yet more charges to include images in various parts of the computer.

Kugler, the prosecutor, also pointed to other court decisions that contradicted Webb's argument.

In denying the motion to dismiss, Wilson noted that it was Koch's Internet address that was used to send out child pornography images.

Koch declined to comment on his case.

Joy Powell --651-925-5038 ___ (c)2013 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) Visit the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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