RILEY COUNTY, Kan. (WIBW) -- A Manhattan man convicted of having child pornography on his computer was granted three years on probation Friday.
Michael Combs, 35, was found guilty by a Riley County jury in October of one count of Sexual Exploitation of a Child. He was sentenced Friday, January 04, 2013 by Riley County District Court Judge David Stutzman.
Prosecutors say several sexually explicit videos of prepubescent children were uncovered on Combs’ computer.
He was arrested by Riley County investigators in November of 2011 when his home on Patricia Place in Manhattan was searched by members of the Riley County Police Department's Internet Crimes Against Children Unit and Special Investigations Unit. Officials said he had been the target of an ongoing investigation involving the possession of child pornography.
Computer forensics were done on Combs' computer to determine what was on it. Deputy Riley County Attorney Bethany Fields told the judge that the three videos found by police featured “very early elementary school children and younger.” She asked that Combs be sentenced to 32 months in prison.
Combs asked for a new trial Friday saying that the files were never accessed or viewed and that during his trial, the jury was never shown the videos or where they were found on his computer.
His request for a new trial was denied.
During the sentencing hearing, Judge Stutzman said that child pornography is "not a victimless crime" and involved "trafficked individuals." He went on to state that it is an "issue of social significance and importance" and that just because Combs didn't have any direct contact with the children featured in the videos, Stutzman said he didn't "see it as a no harm no foul" situation.
After already serving a year behind bars as his court case progressed, Combs has spent most of his 32 month sentence in jail. Stutzman placed him on probation for 36 months.
Combs must register as an offender for 25 years. While on probation, he is not permitted to be alone with children under the age of 18 in a nonpublic place. The only time he is allowed to use the internet is on public computers in public settings for education purposes, including online courses. Combs must also complete psychological treatment and the judge said he wanted a progress report in the future to make sure that Combs isn't just "going through the motions" in regards to his treatment.
The Riley County Police Department is an active member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, allowing them to track anyone who downloads certain files. Officials say the department's involvement with the task force has led to several child pornography arrests.