Child pornography suspect free on bail
Law enforces stress horrific nature of tapes
|Matthew Sizemore of East Wakefield remains free on $25,000 cash bail following his arrest on charges of possession of child pornography and possession and manufacture of marijuana. Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)|
June 18, 2009OSSIPEE — An East Wakefield man remains free on $25,000 cash bail following his arrest last week on 10 counts of possession of child pornography and manufacturing and possession of marijuana charges.
Matthew D. Sizemore, 52, of 104 Burley Park Road was charged following an investigation conducted by the New Hampshire Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, members of the Carroll County Sheriff's Office and Wakefield Police Department.
Sizemore, an electrical contractor who police say lives alone at the home and to their knowledge has no regular contact with children, is scheduled to appear at a probable cause hearing on July 1, which officials acknowledged may not actually happen since Sizemore is already free on bail and the case may proceed directly through the county attorney's office. Law enforcement officials working the case expressed shock at the content of the nine videotapes and one photograph depicting "hundreds" of sexual acts involving underage children. Carroll County Sheriff Chris Conley stressed the horrific nature of the tapes and the seriousness of the crimes to the general public.
"These internet crimes against children are a serious crime. Child pornography does not adequately describe what it is. These are actual digital recordings of child abuse and rape. It's horrific, depraved, and would shock the conscience of any person. I also want to put out there the Sheriff's Department, Wakefield Police – any department – we will thoroughly investigate any of these cases and we will bear any burden to do it. I ask anyone, if they have information about any case, any source, to call a trooper, department or call me," said Sheriff Conley during a press conference Wednesday, June 10.
Earlier this week, Wakefield Police Chief Ken Fifield also hammered home the seriousness of the crime of possession of child pornography.
"Possession of child pornography is the end user to a crime against a child. If not for those people who possess this stuff, there would be no need to create those images," said Fifield. Investigation and aggressive prosecution of these types of cases may get the message out to potential offenders that child pornography is a serious crime. "If society shows this behavior will not be tolerated, that there will be significant punishment for this type of behavior," that will send a signal to perpetrators as to the line of "moral acceptability of the community." "And if you cross that line, you will be punished," said Fifield.
"Our children have to be protected. We won't accept this. You have to set standards of decency," Fifield said.
The New Hampshire Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is made up of several Law Enforcement agencies around the State of New Hampshire that came together in the late 1990's to combat the rise of crimes against children that involve computers and other digital devices. The Carroll County Sheriff's Office has been involved with the task force since 1999. Lt. David Meyers with the Sheriff's office is one of four county officers designated to the task force who is assisting with the forensic analysis of the computer components and images seized.
Carroll County Attorney Robin Gordon said at last week's press conference that the county had prosecuted two "fairly significant cases" of child pornography in recent memory, with those two cases resulting in state prison sentences for the defendants.
Officials had no doubt that child pornography had come to New Hampshire and the county.
"This exchange of child pornography doesn't have any boundaries because of the world wide web," said Conley. "It's global," added Meyer. One tool in the arsenal to fight crimes against children is this special task force.
Meyers said the NH Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force – dubbed "ICAC" -- it is made up of nine law enforcement officers, led by Tim Brownell of the Portsmouth Police Department, who are deputized so they may cross jurisdictional lines during investigations. When a cyber-tip arises, the investigation ensues and "we use any available resource and obviously work with agencies around the county and state," added Meyers.
As for reaction on bail, Conley acknowledged that the state would have preferred to keep Sizemore "locked up," but deferred to the judge's ruling on the matter.
Bail was first set on the manufacturing and possession of illegal drugs (marijuana) charges on Friday, June 5, at $25,000 cash; the state had requested an additional $25,000 cash bail for the child pornography charges, but the judge stuck with the original $25,000 amount, which Sizemore was able to raise.
"The court rolled over the existing bail, the $25,000, on the drug charges; then he was rearrested and brought in front of the court again, where the judge made a determination they would combine bail on the cases together," said Conley.
Carroll County Sheriff's Office Capt. Jon Hebert said his initial reaction to the bail was that the child pornography charges were more serious than the marijuana related charged. He said the more serious charge has a "larger impact on the community." But concurred its judge's decision to make.
"It is their cal to make. It was not the recommendation the state made, but we are jaded. It's their job to look beyond the emotional attachment because of the severity of the charges. But on its face, most people in my circle had the same reaction you did," said Hebert, referring to the question of Sizemore's release on allegedly serious child pornography possession charges.
Hebert added that he understands judges have a task. "Bail is not a punitive thing. Its to insure the safety of the public and that the defendant appear in court. You have to come up with what is reasonable. That's not my task … we stand by whatever decision the court makes," he added.
Sizemore was released with additional conditions that include he have no internet access, no contact with persons under 16 years of age, refrain from possession of firearms, dangerous weapons or ammunition and refrain from use of alcohol or drugs. The judge also required Sizemore to sign a waiver of extradition.
The investigation, and generally others like it involving crimes against children, can take a toll on investigators, said Sheriff Conley, adding that he is discussing making available resources to help staff deal with the post-traumatic stress of exposure to child pornography, many images which depict acts of rape against children. "These are real victims," said Conley. "These guys (that possess the pornography) are criminals of the highest order. And people don't know where it's going to lead."
As of late Tuesday, June 16, no additional charges have been filed in the case.