Sex offender pleads guilty to new charge involving child porn

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A Lockesburg, Ark., man convicted of stalking a child online in 2013, pleaded guilty Wednesday to using his computer to look at child porn.

Nolen Reece Baker, 41, appeared before U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey for a change of plea hearing in the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas with a federal public defender. Baker faces up to ten years in federal prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both at sentencing. However, if the court finds that Baker’s prior conviction involves the sexual abuse of a child or child pornography, he could be facing a minimum of ten years and a maximum of 20, Hickey said.

Time in federal prison isn’t all Baker is facing. When he was arraigned in February, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant appointed a lawyer to represent him with the caveat that Baker reimburse the government for his defense. Public Defender Tiffany Fields filed a motion recently asking Bryant to reconsider.

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Fields argued that money Baker has in certificates of deposit was gifted to him by his father who is concerned Baker doesn’t have the ability to provide for himself. The motion states that Baker is of borderline intelligence and can’t maintain gainful employment. The CDs don’t mature until 2017 and an early withdraw will lead to financial penalties, the motion states.

Baker’s defense is likely to cost the government several thousand dollars. But Bryant’s finding that Baker is not too poor to pay for his own defense has greater consequences. A federal law to fight human trafficking passed in mid-2015 requires federal courts to impose a $5,000 “special assessment” for defendants convicted of certain crimes, including those involving child pornography.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wulff told Hickey that Baker could also be ordered to pay restitution. An older federal law allows courts to order restitution in child porn cases when the victims depicted in the photos or videos has been identified. The restitution goes to the victim for counseling and medical expenses associated with the abuse they suffered.

Wulff said the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is examining the photos found by the U.S. Secret Service on Baker’s computer to determine if they match any known victims. If they do, Baker could be ordered at sentencing to pay restitution.

Wulff told Hickey that Sevier County, Ark., probation officers who were supervising Baker on a five-year probation he received in 2013 for stalking a child on the internet, searched Baker’s computer during a home visit in April 2014. Baker’s search history contained sites that the officers believed could be child pornography sources and contacted the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office. The SCSO acquired a warrant and confiscated Baker’s desktop computer.

A forensic analysis by the U.S. Secret Service revealed thousands of searches for child porn and a bevy of illegal images which led to the charge to which Baker pleaded guilty Wednesday. The photographs depicted young children who had not reached puberty engaged in sexual activity.

State prosecutors in Arkansas have filed a motion to revoke Baker’s probation. That means he could be facing time in an Arkansas prison in addition to any federal prison sentence. Baker will return to federal court for sentencing on the child pornography charge once Hickey has received a pretrial report which will include recommendations for sentencing under federal guidelines and information concerning restitution for the young children victimized to produce the pornography Baker viewed on the internet.

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