Suspended sentence for ex-teacher in Web child pornography case

November 21, 1999|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A former Baltimore County teacher received a two-year suspended sentence and one year of supervised probation for sending child pornography over the Internet.

Gary Lee Russell, 53, of the 700 block of Fairview Ave. in Annapolis must also register as a sex offender and get alcohol counseling under the sentence imposed Friday by Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck.

Russell taught earth science at Old Court Middle School in Randallstown last year, but resigned when charged a few days before school ended in June. He had taught in two Prince George's County middle schools from 1968 to 1973, but left to sell real estate.

The sentence satisfied the defense and prosecution.

"We are pleased that he will not be incarcerated and we hope Judge Manck will strike the conviction from his record if he successfully completes his probation," said David W. Fischer, Russell's lawyer.

Manck said he would be open to considering the change.

Assistant State's Attorney Thomas J. Fleckenstein said the sex offender registration was important to the prosecution because it helps prospective employers with background checks.

America Online, the Internet service provider with which Russell had two accounts, turned Russell in to Maryland State Police in March. Fleckenstein said Russell had downloaded 1,200 to 1,400 pornographic photographs, about a dozen of which showed children engaging in sex with adults. Russell sent some of the photos to people he met in a chat room, the prosecutor said.

There was no indication that Russell improperly touched or photographed children or was part of a child pornography ring.

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