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Salina man who collected child porn placed on probation

Published on -4/19/2014, 5:40 PM

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By Erin Mathews

The Salina Journal

Salina man who collected child porn placed on probation

By Erin Mathews Salina Journal -- Saturday, April 19, 2014 2:00 AM

A Salina man who the prosecutor described as having amassed the largest and "most awful" collection of child pornography she had seen was placed on probation Friday, with the warning that any infraction would land him in prison.

Judge Jared Johnson said he'd rather see Joel Beets pursue sex offender treatment with a fiveyear, four-month prison sentence hanging over his head than have him released from prison after that time without his issues having been as effectively addressed.

"Probation is a privilege, and if you abuse that privilege in any way, I will send you to prison," Johnson warned.

Beets, 33, originally was charged with 10 felony counts of sexual exploitation of a child but pleaded to three. Johnson ordered Beets to serve three years on Community Corrections-supervised probation, with the requirements that he obtain sex offender treatment and an alcohol and drug evaluation. He must register as a sexual offender for 25 years and will be under supervision for the rest of his life.

Should get max Prosecutor Christina Trocheck, an assistant county attorney, argued that Beets could receive treatment in prison. She advocated the maximum aggravated sentence of five years and eight months, which she described as "woefully inadequate."

"Let's be clear: this wasn't a situation of idle curiosity," she said. "This was a situation where he developed a very large collection of videos and images of children as young as 2 or 3 years old engaged in sexual activity with adults. The defendant has admitted that he was sexually aroused by viewing these images and these horrible videos of children."

Trocheck said Beets' collection of more than 1,500 files included images that depicted children of all ages engaged in various types of sexual activity. She said that more than 500 images were identified as real children by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

"These are real children that are subjected to the sexual abuse even when they're too young to really understand what it means, but as they grow older what they have to deal with is the knowledge that these images are out there being viewed by thousands of individuals who are sexually attracted to children," she said. "The defendant is one of those individuals. The defendant has done as much to perpetrate the exploitation of these children as the original perpetrators."

Complied with requirements

Attorney Bobby Hiebert, who represented Beets, said he does not disagree that the offenses Beets committed were "certainly quite severe," but Hiebert said the judge "cannot paint everyone with the same brush."

He said Beets has complied with every requirement of sex offender registration and probation since he was released from jail, including having no computer access. He completed a sex evaluation and made arrangements to enter a treatment program starting Monday.

"It becomes apparent to the court, when the court makes decisions what individuals have hope and what individuals are hopeless," Hiebert said. "Mr. Beets is not hopeless. Mr. Beets deserves an opportunity to try to do the right thing."

Beets, a talented singer who has appeared in several Salina Community Theatre productions, said at his sentencing that he wants to do everything he can to make up for his behavior, including working hard and contributing to the arts in Salina and continuing to sing whenever possible. He said he wants to build healthy relationships with those around him and prove to his family they can be proud of him again.

Downloaded on computer

According to an arrest affidavit, a member of the Kansas Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was using a software program to monitor several computer addresses that were exchanging identified child porn files. He downloaded several files from a computer that was later identified as being located in an upstairs office of Beets' father's business.

Beets told officers he had downloaded the images using Limewire, a software for downloading and sharing files. Beets told officers he never intended to share the files, the affidavit read.

Addicted to porn

At his sentencing, Beets described how his addiction to Internet pornography became worse after he first discovered online images at age 14.

"Pornography was easy to find, and there was so much of it you couldn't possibly find it all," Beets said. "Soon enough I found pictures of girls around my own age. I knew it was illegal to view these images, but I was overcome with attraction toward them and I couldn't stop looking. I didn't want to stop looking."

Beets said his grades suffered as he spent time he should have been doing homework surfing Internet porn sites, and as he grew older he remained most attracted to images of younger girls.

"I kept wondering if I would grow out of my attraction to younger females," he said. "I thought that I should and wished that I could stop, but the desire to search for more wouldn't go away."

'Crying out' for help

During nearly two decades, Beets said he deleted all porn from his collection at least six times and would be free of it for a time before coming back to it "at a time when I felt weak or low on self-esteem."

"I went through incredible inner turmoil and built up a wall around myself knowing how others would feel about me if they knew," he said. "It felt like being under water at times, and I found myself crying out to those around me for help -- but only on the inside."

Beets said his arrest on Sept. 20, 2012, was the best thing that could have happened to him.

"It was the only solution that could have solved the problem that had gone on for far too long," he said. "The weight was lifted. I knew that I would be hated, that I would be made fun of. I knew that people would gossip about me and probably even make up their own version of why I went to jail."

Despite that, Beets said his future looked bright for the first time in a long time.

"I didn't have to hide anything anymore," Beets said. "Somehow being hated is better than knowing that a person would hate you if they knew your secret. I was finally able to be honest with the people that I love, and I probably received more support from them."

'Very loving person'

Beets said he has returned to school and is learning to be a machinist.

Beets said he is not proud of what he'd done, describing it as a crime of lust and selfishness.

"I would like the court to know that I am a very loving person," he said. "I would never purposefully harm another person, and if my actions have caused harm, I'm sorry. A friend of mine once asked how I would feel if someone put pictures of my daughter on the Internet, and it really hit home. I would probably want to kill him. That was my thought."

Trocheck said it was clear to her that Beets "really has no empathy" for the child victims of pornography and clearly doesn't understand the damage done to children.

"He talks about how it hurt him and what people would think about him," she said. "He never says anything about how sexual exploitation feels to children."

(c)2014 The Salina Journal

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