A former James City County Republican Party leader who spent nearly two decades watching child pornography will be sentenced Monday.
Charles Young, 69, could spend much of the next 20 years in prison.
He pleaded guilty in federal court Jan. 31 to one felony count of receiving child pornography, according to U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Virginia documents.
The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 20. The prosecution, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa McKeel, stated that a sentence between 121 and 151 months — or roughly 10 to 12 years — is appropriate, according to court documents.
Young is asking that little be added to the five year minimum, according to the defense's position on sentencing filed with the federal court July 3. Tim Clancy of the Hampton law firm Clancy and Walter PLLC is representing Young.
Family turns him in
Young's adult son Jared Young turned him in to James City County police Aug. 15 and officers searched the family's home three days later, according to James City County General District Court documents.
Charles Young was a member of the James City County Republican Party from 2012 to August 2016, when he resigned his role as chairman because of the impending child pornography charges, according to federal court documents.
The FBI arrested him at his home on Nov. 16; he has remained at Western Tidewater Regional Jail in Suffolk since then.
In his statement to county officers, Jared Young said he was aware of his father's child porn habit for 20 years. He said the family tried to intervene as recently as December 2015, according to county court documents.
Jared Young told police he decided to report his father after discovering Charles Young had connected with young boys on Facebook whose pages included explicit images of them performing sexual acts on each other, according to federal court documents. In a search of 40 electronic devices taken from his home, officials found more than 22,000 images — photos and videos — of child pornography.
Of those images, Young was initially charged with receiving 10 specific photos and videos between Feb. 4, 2014 and July 27, 2014. All of the 10 cited in federal court documents depicted male children, at least some of whom were under 12 years old.
When he was arrested, Charles Young also "stated in sum and substance, that he viewed child pornography via his Dropbox account but he deleted the images," according to federal court documents.
Part of his January plea deal included dropping nine of the 10 original charges, according to federal court documents.
Arguing for a lesser sentence
Young's cooperation with authorities is one reason he's advocating for less time in prison, according to federal court documents. Another is that the court can order him to be on supervised release for the rest of his life.
"A sentence could be imposed well below the guideline range that would be sufficient to deter future criminal conduct," the defense's position on sentencing states. "The Defendant has the added factors of shame, humiliation and future consequence, such as registering as a sex offender for life and future prohibitions on his liberty."
Those restrictions of freedom include people he can be around, places he can go and his access to the internet, court documents state.
Young's defense team submitted six statements on his behalf written by family members, friends and neighbors.
Young's daughter, Corey Benroth, noted her father's service in the military — he spent 22 years in the U.S. Navy, according to federal court documents.
"It has been difficult to reconcile the actions of my father with the man I know," Benroth wrote June 30. "My father has been a loving and kind father to me. Through his example he has instilled in me a strong sense of right and wrong."
Stephen Murphy stated that he'd known Young "casually" for years through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' Addiction Recovery Program. Young joined the program in January 2016 following his family's discovery of child pornography the previous month, according to federal court documents.
"My impression was and remains, Charles was taking responsibility for his actions and was making real progress in overcoming his abhorrent behavior that was destroying his life," Murphy wrote on July 1.
Norwood Groce and Peyton White both knew Young for more than a decade from his time with the Newport News Republican Party, they stated in their respective letters. White noted that Young helped get his wife, Sandra Young, elected to the Williamsburg-James City County School Board in November 2015.
Sandra Young represents the Berkeley District. When reached by phone Friday, she declined to comment.
"He loves his children and grand children.… He loves his wife, Sandy," White wrote on June 30. "I request mercy for Mr. Young keeping in mind his weakened and precarious health situation."
According to court documents, Charles Young has a nerve condition that limits his mobility. His defense team notes he has never had an alcohol or substance abuse problem.
In addition to caring for his physical ailments, the defense's position on sentencing states Young would benefit from a sex offender treatment program.
"The community would be better protected by having Young undergo counseling to deal with his pornography issues and treatment to help him avoid a relapse," the defense's position on sentencing states. "After serving the mandatory minimum of five years, Young will be 74 years old."
Years in prison
Young's defense team agrees that federal sentencing guidelines recommend between 121 and 151 months in prison, but are advocating for supervised release after the minimum five years. They say Young would participate in a sex offender treatment program while incarcerated, according to court documents.
"Given this Defendant's age, lack of criminal history and the Court's ability to impose prohibitions on Young's computer and internet access as well as placing him on supervised release for the rest of his life, a minimal period of incarceration is sufficient to allow this elderly, hard-working man to return to/continue being a productive, contributing member of the community," the defense's position on sentencing states.
And Young may be in luck.
On June 27 Robert Doumar, the U.S. District Court Judge presiding over the case, submitted an order stating he is considering a lesser sentence than what the prosecution suggests.
Doumar's final decision is expected to be handed down Monday in the U.S. District Court in Norfolk. Young's hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m.
Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.