'It's because of people like you that children right now are suffering unimaginable horror'

'It's because of people like you that children right now are suffering unimaginable horror'

URBANA — A Champaign County Judge Friday told an Urbana man who possessed and shared child pornography that he didn't "threaten serious harm" as outlined in state sentencing guidelines.

But Judge Brett Olmstead made clear to Steven Fogle that it is because of people like him that children worldwide are being victimized.

"It's because of people like you those images are created. It's because of people like you that children right now are suffering unimaginable horror. That's where you fit in," Olmstead said before sentencing Fogle to 11 years in prison.

"This is an offense that speaks to a corrupt, evil mind, one that would derive pleasure from seeing children tortured," Olmstead said.

With credit for two years and almost five months already served in the county jail and day-for-day credit for good time, the 46-year-old former chef and musician could be released from prison in another three years.

He pleaded guilty in January to possessing and disseminating child pornography, Class 3 and Class X felonies, respectively.

In return, Assistant State's Attorney Scott Larson dismissed other Class X felony counts and agreed to seek no more than 20 years in prison for Fogle, whose only prior criminal conviction was in 2013 for possession with intent to deliver cannabis.

And Larson did just that after having Urbana police Sgt. Tim McNaught describe some of the about 50,000 pornographic images of children he found on a computer in Fogle's home in the 1400 block of Lincolnwood Drive during a court-authorized search in December 2015.

The prosecutor had McNaught cue up some of what was found on the computer for the judge to see.

Although Larson had prepared about 40 minutes of video, Olmstead looked at it for about four minutes, over the objection of defense attorney Lawrence Sommers of Brookfield.

"I would say it doesn't take long to get the gist," Olmstead said.

Sommers called a representative of Jesus Is the Way Prison Ministry who had met weekly with Fogle for a year in jail to testify about his sincerity and humility.

He also presented several letters of support from family and employers.

Arguing for 20 years, Larson said while Fogle may not have recorded the children himself, he created the market for others to torture the children shown in the images he possessed and shared.

"The only weapon we have to help these children around the world is deterrence," Larson said.

Sommers noted that Fogle had led a "pretty much law-abiding life" prior to his arrest, was a valued employee and said even the minimum sentence of six years behind bars was a long time.

In a lengthy statement on his own behalf, Fogle tearfully lamented the pain he had caused his mother, his co-workers and his friends.

He reminisced about contributions he had made as a musician playing with the late Chuck Berry, a Broadway theater company and the choir at McKinley Presbyterian Church.

Olmstead responded with a 20-minute speech of his own, reminding Fogle that he will have to register as a sex offender for life with the entire community being privy to his whereabouts.

"It's an appropriate response to a horrible crime. It's designed to mitigate the risk of recidivism," he said.

Fogle was also fined $3,000 but had more than enough credit from time served — at $5 per day — to cover that.

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