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United States v. Harrison

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

August 10, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee,
v.
JOSHUA HARRISON, Defendant, Appellant.

          APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MAINE [Hon. John A. Woodcock, Jr., U.S. District Judge]

          Lawrence D. Gerzog on brief for appellant.

          Renée M. Bunker, Assistant United States Attorney, Appellate Chief, and Halsey B. Frank, United States Attorney, on brief for appellee.

          Before Lynch, Kayatta, and Barron, Circuit Judges.

          LYNCH, Circuit Judge.

         This sentencing appeal follows Joshua Harrison's plea of guilty to possession of child pornography. Harrison kept on his computer and tablet over 300 child pornography images, many of prepubescent minors, toddlers, and infants. Harrison's criminal history includes a juvenile adjudication and adult criminal conviction for abuse of, or misconduct with, boys as young as eight years old.

         The district court sentenced Harrison to 120 months' imprisonment followed by lifetime supervised release. The court reasoned that the condition of lifetime supervised release was justified because Harrison posed a "danger to young boys."

         On appeal, Harrison asks us to vacate and remand for resentencing. He argues that the district court inadequately explained why it imposed a condition of lifetime supervised release and that the condition is substantively unreasonable. He next challenges his 10-year imprisonment sentence as substantively unreasonable. We disagree and so we affirm.

         I.

         In August 2015, authorities detected child pornography in an email account they traced to Harrison. Further inquiry turned up a 2012 report that Harrison had offered to exchange sexual photographs for money with two young boys. With this, police got a warrant to search Harrison's email account and his residence.

         Harrison spoke with police during the search. He denied involvement with child pornography, but said that if his computer contained child pornography it was for him to "self-medicate" so that he did not do anything to a child. The officers seized Harrison's laptop and tablet, which between them held 320 images of child pornography. The probation office said that number, 320, was "a conservative accounting." The images involved prepubescent minors, toddlers, and infants as young as one year old. And some depicted "sadistic or masochistic conduct" including penetration and bondage.

         Harrison was charged with one count of possession of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252A(a)(5)(B) and (b)(2). He pleaded guilty, with no plea agreement, in December 2016.

         We recount the following from the presentence report (PSR) and the sentencing transcript. Harrison, from at least the age of sixteen, "engaged in a pattern of activity involving the sexual abuse or exploitation of a minor." In 1998, when Harrison was sixteen, he received a juvenile adjudication for the gross sexual assault of an eight-year-old boy. While in juvenile detention, Harrison collected over 100 disciplinary infractions. Corrections officials deemed him a "treatment resister." At discharge, he was an "untreated sex offender," having completed only two credits of a 120-credit sex offender treatment program.

         Clinical reviews conducted during Harrison's juvenile detention revealed a lack of empathy and "total absence of remorse." The reviews found it "highly probabl[e]" that Harrison had more victims. And, importantly, they concluded that Harrison's "risk of sexual re-offense [was] higher than the baseline risk." That conclusion proved prophetic when, soon after his release, Harrison offered to exchange sexual ...


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