Cheyenne Man Sentenced to 11 years, 3 Months for Child Pornography Crimes
A Cheyenne man will spend 11 years, three months in federal prison for receipt and possession of pornography.
Michael Gregory Schaefer heard the sentence during a hearing before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl in Casper on Wednesday.
Besides the prison time, Schaefer will be on supervised probation after his release from custody for 10 years.
The federal grand jury handed up the indictment on Nov. 17 charging him with production, possession and receipt of child pornography.
On March 6, he pleaded guilty to the possession and receipt charges. In exchange for the plea, the government would dismiss one count of production of child pornography at his sentencing.
Because Schaefer is indigent, he will not have to pay the fine required by the Victims of Sex Trafficking Act, the judge said.
However, he will have to pay restitution to the victim and her family. Skavdahl said that amount is still being determined.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christyne Martens, speaking by videoconference, urged Skavdahl to accept the plea deal to quickly conclude the case. Besides the prison term, Schaefer will not be able to appeal the sentence and will need to register as a sex offender.
The victim and the family also have agreed to the terms in the plea agreement, Martens said.
Federal Public Defender David Weiss, accompanied by Schaefer, told Skavdahl that he took over the case from another attorney.
The proposed prison term is a long time for incarceration, Weiss said, adding that this is a serious crime with a serious impact on the victim.
However, Weiss said Schaefer has struggled with sexual attraction to children his entire life, and numbed the struggle with alcohol and other drugs.
Psychiatrists and therapists often don't want to treat pedophiles, in part because of a long-held belief that they cannot be cured, he said. That medical opinion has been changing, he added.
Schaefer didn't reach out for help, Weiss said. "He feels horrible; he feels embarrassed and realized there are victims."
He also wants treatment, he added.
Schaefer's family, several members who were in the courtroom, has provided support for him compared to others sentenced for similar crimes whose families have abandoned them, Weiss said.
Schaefer apologized to the victim -- a teenage girl -- and her family.
The only substantial issue was whether Schafer would be allowed to view adult pornography after his release.
Schaefer told Skavdahl he would be able to look at adult pornography without thinking of child pornography.
Skavdahl strongly disagreed.
Schaefer groom the victim and potential other victims with adult pornography, the judge said.
Schaefer had thousands of images of child pornography, hundreds of child erotica and hundreds of images of adult pornography on six electronic devices, the judge said.
Besides the quantity, the plea agreement's provision to require any computer to have a monitoring software for pornography would be a nightmare for any probation officers assigned to Schafer, Skavdahl said.
Probation officers would have to spend an inordinate amount of time reviewing the software trying to determine whether images were allowed, Skavdahl said. "Frankly, it's just impossible."
Skavdahl then he laid down the terms of Schaefer's punishment including treatment for alcohol and other mind-altering substances, no contact with the victim or her family, receive sex offender treatment, and receive mental health treatment for depression.
He prefaced the terms with the observation that nothing in the investigation indicated that he had distributed any images, the judge said. "Had that occurred, I would have no mercy."
Weiss asked, and Skavdahl agree, to place Schaefer at the federal prison in Englewood, Colorado, to be close to his family in Cheyenne.
Finally, Skavdahl gave him some encouragement.
"I wish you and your family the best of luck," he said.