ABC's Jim Avila's Interview With Andrew Thomas, District Attorney, Maricopa County

And at the end of the day, we felt that for this particular case, that was the right outcome. Now, this uh, in…in fairness, this is very different from the guy I was talkin' about, uh, and I can give you more specifics about him as an example of somebody I'd want to throw the book at. Somebody who's basically trafficking in child pornography, those guys should go to prison for a long time. I got no sympathy for them at all.

The…this young man wa…was different. I… now, was…was it appropriate for us to bring these original charges? Yes, I think it was. Was the ultimate outcome appropriate? I think it was, based on all the factors of the …of the case. Can reasonable people disagree about that because they, you know, they take a look at it and they think it was maybe too harsh or too light? I suppose.

But that's what prosecutors are paid to do. We have …We have to try to do justice in individual cases, that's what courts are paid to do.

ANDREW THOMAS: But the ultimate outcome was what it was. And the defendant accepts that, the state accepts that, and I'm content that the appropriate sanction was imposed to hold him accountable, teach him a lesson, teach him that this isn't fun and games. If you're goin' to start playing around on pornographic sites, and you come across child pornography then, you know, you better accept the consequences of that.

And whatever happened in his case, uh, w- …presumably we'll never know because, uh, we…we haven't been able to…to fully get to the bottom of that. But, uh, an important lesson was taught here. But justice was served in that the appropriate outcome wasn't to send this guy to prison for 50 years. Was to teach him a good, hard lesson so he doesn't do it again. And that's what happened.

JIM AVILA: The defense attorney didn't agree to a plea that said this boy committed child pornography…

ANDREW THOMAS: Uh-huh.

JIM AVILA: …in any way.

ANDREW THOMAS: Right.

JIM AVILA: Okay? He didn't do anything unethical. He…he did agree to a plea of a boy who took a Playboy magazine to school.

ANDREW THOMAS: Uh-huh.

JIM AVILA: Showed it to 16-year-olds.

ANDREW THOMAS: Right.

JIM AVILA: A charge which we've not able…been able to find has ever been leveled against anybody in this county ...

ANDREW THOMAS: Uh-huh.

JIM AVILA: …before.

ANDREW THOMAS: Yeah, I don't know. It may have…it may have been a while. It's…it's certainly not one that we bring commonly. But again, to explain, uh, how you reach that plea agreement, if you've decided that somebody is going to plead to, instead of a Class Two felony, it's a Class Five felony, or a Class Six undesignated felony, then to reach the plea agreement that can then be entered into court, I mean, not to be too technical about it, but you've got to find a Class Six felony that fits the factual description of what happened so that you can go into court and you can say, "On this date, this is what I did" and the judge can say…can examine the facts and accept a guilty plea.

So, while this would have been an unorthodox thing to a person to plead to, uh, that it's because of the common desire of prosecution and defense to reach a just outcome in looking for a Class Six undesignated felony that fit this…this fact pattern. And…and that's, uh, that's how we reach this point. And, uh, but for the record, you know, these kids really shouldn't be takin' (Chuckles) Playboys to school.

Uh, not that, uh, we have some big crackdown here on that but, uh…but the…the law is on the books, and…and maybe it's on the books if only to allow us, in cases like this, to properly dispose of the case.

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