Prison Time For Viewing Porn?

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"Quite frankly, criminal defendants are not famous for being forthcoming with the facts," Thomas explained. "I'm not a big believer in polygraph tests. And certainly, they're not admissible in court. At the end of the day, we certainly felt there was a good faith reason to go forward with the prosecution." (Click here to read excerpts of Jim Avila's interview with Thomas.)

Despite the positive polygraphs and psychiatric exams, the district attorney pressed on. So the Bandys and their attorney tackled the most difficult question on the table. If Matthew didn't put the pictures on the computer, how did they get there?

For that answer, they turned to computer forensic expert Tammi Loehrs.

"If you have an Internet connection, high speed, through, let's say, your cable company, or through the phone company, that computer is always on, and basically you have an open doorway to the outside," Loehrs said. "So the home user has no idea who's coming into their computer."

Loehrs went into the Bandys' computer and what she found could frighten any parent -- more than 200 infected files, so-called backdoors that allowed hackers to access the family computer from remote locations, no where near Matthew's house.

"They could be on your computer and you'd never know it," she said.

Loehrs says she does not believe that Matthew uploaded those images onto his computer "based on everything I know and everything I've seen on that hard drive."

But police still had those pictures, and the harsh child porn laws made going to court risky for Matthew.

"All the jury would know is that there were these images on the computer," Matthew said. "And here's me sitting in the courtroom…let's blame him because he was on the computer, obviously he did it."

'We Had No Faith'

Even if he was only convicted on one count, Matthew would have faced 10 years in jail, and have his "life ruined," said Novak.

"We had no faith," said Jeannie Bandy. "Our lawyers had no faith. We were told he more than likely would end up in jail."

So the Bandys took a deal from the prosecution. In exchange for dropping all counts of child pornography, Matthew pleaded guilty to the strange charge of distributing obscene materials to minors -- a "Playboy" magazine to his classmates.

"To be precise, he was charged with showing [a Playboy magazine to other 16-year-olds] before school, at lunch and after school," Greg Bandy said.

But the Bandy family nightmare was not over. While the prosecution deal offered no jail time for Matthew, he would still be labeled a sex offender. Under Arizona law and in most states around the country, sex crimes carry with them a life of branding. Matthew would be forced to register as a sex offender everywhere he lived, for the rest of his life.

"I have to stay away from children," said Matthew. "I cannot be around any area where there might be minors, including the mall, or the movies, or restaurants or even church. To go to church I have to have written consent from our priest, I have to sit in a different pew, one that doesn't have a child sitting in it."

'Computers Are Not Safe'

The judge couldn't believe the prosecution was insisting on sex offender status and invited Matthew to appeal. "20/20" was there when two years of fear and misery finally ended. A message arrived from the judge, ironically on the computer, informing them that Matthew would not be labeled a sex offender. Matt and his parents had won his life back.

In the den of the Bandy home sits the family computer, now unplugged from the Internet. The Bandys learned that, for them, the Web is simply too dangerous.

"It means that computers are not safe," said Jeannie. "I don't want to have one in my house. Under even under the strictest rules and the strictest security, your computer is vulnerable."

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