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May 5 2020

Syracuse man convicted on child pornography charges after jury rejects PTSD defense

A 42-year-old Syracuse man was convicted of distributing, possessing and attempting to receive child pornography. The jury rejected his insanity defense in which he claimed that watching child pornography helped him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Benjamin Jakes-Johnson was found guilty on three counts of child pornography following a jury trial in in Binghamton, New York. He suggested that he had PTSD from the abuse he suffered as a child and while serving his federal prison sentence from a prior conviction for child pornography possession in 2008. His resulting mental state left him unable to understand that child pornography was illegal.

Jakes-Johnson’s attorneys presented testimony from a psychiatrist to support his PTSD defense. According to trial evidence, he tried to hide his online activity by using hotel internet connections to exchange child pornography in the hopes that it would be untraceable.

Jakes-Johnson also viewed child pornography at an apartment leased by his family’s business. Prosecutors said he did not inform his probation officers about the Syracuse apartment, where he stayed regularly.

Jakes-Johnson admitted to watching and trading child pornography in an interview with police after his 2017 arrest. Prosecutors played recordings of the interview in court to show the jury that he realized his actions were wrong and recognized the punishment associated with being a repeat child pornography offender. 

The distribution of child pornography and attempt to receive child pornography charges carry a prison sentence of between 15 to 40 years. Additionally, Jakes-Johnson faces a 10-year minimum and 20-year maximum prison sentence for possessing child pornography.

If child pornography charges have been filed against you in New York, you need an attorney who is experienced in handling this sensitive area of law. Contact Brill Legal Group for a top-notch legal defense team that will provide you with the smart representation you need.