In the minutes leading up to 11 a.m., Charles Young shuffled down the hallway, guided by two officers. A clink echoed with each step as the shackles between his ankles clanged against one another.
Young is 69 years old. He’ll be 75 by the time he’s released from prison.
In January, he admitted to years of watching child pornography, a crime for which his son turned him in to police last August.
Investigators found 30,000 images of young children, many young boys, on various devices taken from the Young home, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa McKeel said at Young’s sentencing hearing Monday.
Despite arguments for a stronger mandate of 10 to 12 years, U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar landed on 74 months as the appropriate prison sentence — 14 months on top of the mandatory five years.
In the pews in the Grand Jury Room of the Norfolk U.S. District Courthouse sat two family members — his wife and daughter — and a reporter.
Young didn’t turn around when the women walked in, the last to enter before officials closed the door.
Sandra Young, 73, sat with their 49-year-old daughter Devon Capili — one of seven children — in the second row. Capili’s arm wound around her mother’s shoulders during parts of the hearing — including when Charles Young spoke in his defense.
“I’d like first to recognize for my family the difficult circumstances I’ve put them through with my conduct — especially my wife who has done so much for me,” Charles Young said.
After the hearing, both women declined to comment for this story.
The couple’s son Jared Young, 36, tipped off James City County police in August after discovering his father had connected with young boys on Facebook who had sexually explicit images of themselves. This came after a December 2015 intervention because another family member found child pornography on Young’s computer, according to federal court documents.
Jared Young told investigators he’d known about his father’s habit for 20 years, according to James City County General District Court documents. When the FBI arrested him Nov. 16, Charles Young admitted to watching it “since about 2002-2003,” according to federal court documents.
That failed intervention, after which Charles Young did seek some addiction counseling, is part of why McKeel argued for a sentence within the 121 to 151-month guidelines.
“Unless this court sends a clear message to the defendant — his family couldn’t do it — I don’t think the defendant will feel the gravity of his actions,” McKeel said.
McKeel pointed to Young volunteering with Boy Scouts and, most recently, connecting with the boys on Facebook after the family intervention.
What she said was one of the most important points about the severity of Charles Young’s escalation in consuming child pornography centers around an event multiple of his children relayed to investigators.
McKeel said Young worked in hospital management in the Marshall Islands shortly after leaving the Navy in 1992.
“There were unsubstantiated claims … that (a security guard) had seen the defendant oiling up a boy to prepare to have sex with him,” Mckeel said. It was then he was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she said.
McKeel said the family confronted Young about these events and why he left the Marshall Islands during their December 2015 intervention, at which time “he told them he was removed from the Marshall Islands for inappropriately touching boys,” McKeel said.
Doumar pressed McKeel about why these facts were left out of her position on sentencing — a document in which she said little more than the U.S. stands by the sentencing guidelines recommending 121 to 151 months in prison.
“This is very embarrassing for the family,” she said. “I did not want to put all of this out there. I didn’t want to talk about the Marshall Islands incident.”
If it had been included, the information would have been accessible to the public when it was filed in open court April 19. Instead, the facts surrounding that and more details about what was found on Young’s electronic device — 40 were taken from his home — are in the sealed presentence investigation report which the court and attorneys have access to, but the public does not.
But Doumar had submitted an order June 27 announcing he was considering a downward departure — a lesser sentence — from the guidelines, according to federal court documents.
Young’s lawyer Tim Clancy advocated little be added to the minimum five years because the court had other ways to restrict Young’s freedom — supervised release for life, registering as a sex offender and restricting his whereabouts and access to the internet.
“He expressed remorse for the pain he inflicted on other people,” Clancy said Monday. “He described his actions as ‘loathsome’ — that’s his term, not counsel’s.”
Doumar’s lesser sentence — 74 months rather than 121 to 151 — came from the precedent set around the country, he said. He spoke at length about the lesser sentences handed down to those who receive — but do not produce or distribute — child pornography, as is the case with Young.
Doumar spent time Monday questioning the internet providers’ responsibility and the wildly accessible corners of the world wide web.
“I don’t think the public is aware how serious a crime (viewing child pornography) is because on the internet it’s so easy to view anything,” Doumar said. “I worry about that.”
One way to get at the producers of child pornography is to go after the users, he said.
“The statement of facts clearly shows reprehensible actions by the defendant,” Doumar said. “It’s still been going on for years and years. … I have tremendous misgivings about whether child pornography users can ever get better.”
To that end, in addition to the 74 months in prison, Young will undergo sex offender treatment and be on supervised release for the rest of his life after incarceration.
He was not ordered to pay a fine — which could have been up to $250,000 — and was not ordered to pay restitution to the victims. At least seven children were identified in the images lifted from his devices, McKeel said.
Doumar dropped nine of the 10 child pornography charges against Young at the Monday hearing, which was part of the plea agreement Young reached with the prosecution Jan. 31.
Young has been held at Western Tidewater Regional Jail in Suffolk since his arrest and will remain there until the U.S. Bureau of Prisons determines which prison he’ll be sent to.
Williams can be reached at 757-345-2341.