HAMILTON - A Victor man arrested for uploading child pornography in two Montana counties received identical prison sentences in both.

On Friday, Ravalli County District Judge Jeffrey Langton sentenced Matthew Bailey to 25 years in prison, with 20 suspended, for felony sexual abuse of children. The sentence will run concurrent to another 25-year sentence Bailey received from Gallatin County District Judge John Brown on Sept. 22.

State prosecutor Ole Olson said the sentence was shorter than the state's mandatory minimum because Bailey was young - 21 years old - had no criminal history and had been cooperative.

However, Olson asked for a restriction that Bailey not be granted parole during his five years in prison, a clause that was also part of the Gallatin County sentence.

Defense attorney Ron Piper argued against the restriction because it was already part of Brown's ruling and Bailey would probably remain in prison that long while finishing phases 1 and 2 of sexual offender treatment, a requirement of his sentence.

Langton asked how long sexual offender treatment lasted and both attorneys said they had been told it took a minimum of three years. Piper said it could stretch to six years because the waiting list can be long.

"The first five years will be without parole eligibility because of the seriousness of the offense, plus it falls within the range of completing sex offender treatment," Langton said.

The only difference between the two sentences was a request from Olson for an additional clause denying early termination of the 25-year sentence, which Langton granted.

According to court records, in January 2010, Missoula Police Detective Chris Shermer, acting as part of the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children task force, identified a computer that uploaded child pornography to a website starting in December 2009. The computer's Internet address led to Bailey's residence in Victor, where Shermer seized all computer equipment.

Shermer learned Bailey had recently returned to Bozeman for Montana State University's spring semester.

Schermer contacted a Bozeman police detective who interviewed Bailey in his dorm room. After Bailey refused to let her look at his computer, she got a warrant and seized all the computer items. The Montana Crime Lab later found the hard drive had been erased.

But one seized DVD held 18 movie files containing images of child sexual abuse. They found similar images on a computer seized from Bailey's house in Victor. Some images showed adult men sexually abusing Asian boys younger than 12.

Evidence mounted in May 2010, when an employee of Ning, which hosts websites, reported that child pornography had been uploaded in February 2009. Shermer was able to trace the images to another Internet address of a Hamilton residence that belonged to the Baileys before they moved to Victor.

Bailey pleaded guilty in Ravalli County in July under a agreement that dropped a second count of sexual abuse of children.

Langton asked about restitution to the many victims, but Olson said there would be none.

"One victim requested restitution, but it was a while ago, and we couldn't get in contact with them," Olson said. "Out of embarrassment, many victims don't want to be contacted."

Langton read sections of a psycho-sexual evaluation written by therapist Marla North that said Bailey was a low risk for hands-on abuse. However, once he gets out of prison, Bailey must register as a level 2 sex offender.

"The child pornography industry would not exist without people buying and sharing these pictures," Langton said. "This is a serious offense, and you'll pay for it, but your pain is less than the pain of embarrassment carried by these kids."

Reporter Laura Lundquist can be reached at 363-3300 or at laura.lundquist@ravallirepublic.com.

 

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