Saturday, March 12, 2011


Child Porn Sentence For Executive
Author: Theo Karantsalis

Date Published: 3/10/2011

Publication: The National Herald online (USA)

OAKLAND, CA. - A federal judge last week sentenced a Greek insurance executive in California to 51 months in prison for possessing child pornography. Michael Howard Vawter, 41, who once served on the parish council of the Ascension Greek Orthodox Church in Oakland, Calif., collected more than 170 child pornography videos, court records show. Some videos showed adults raping young children. “I’m sorry a million times,” said Vawter, as he addressed the court at his sentencing on Feb. 25. Vawter, who is married with two children, was also a den leader of Cub Scout group near Oakland. He blamed the IT manager at the insurance company where he worked claiming he “set up automatic links to various pornography sites.” That is when authorities said that Vawter started to “receive” pornography. His compulsive downloading of porno became disruptive at work and affected others’ ability to access computer resources, court records show. The disruption led to an inquiry, which led to the discovery of the child pornography. “He could not have downloaded them without realizing what he was getting,” Assistant United States Attorney Owen P. Martikan wrote in a memorandum. Government attorneys pointed out that the titles of the videos left no doubt as to their contents. Martikan chided Vawter that he should have known better, especially since he led an “advantaged” life.

Vawter lived in the affluent community of Danville, Calif., and was arrested at CCI Financial & Insurance Services in nearby San Ramon, where he was an Executive Vice President. Police investigated Vawter after receiving a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Friends and family offered the court 57 letters in support of Vawter, including his wife of 16 years, fellow parishioners and church leaders.

“The fact that he was elected to and served on the parish council is a statement about his character,” said Metropolitan Nikitas, Director of the Patriarch Atehangoras Orthodox Institute at the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley. “For our community, this means that we trust the person, respect his decisions, and see him or her as a leader and role model.” After being sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lowell Jensen, Vawter paid a $12,500 fine, as well as $1,500 – or $100 each – to the 15 victims identified in the videos.

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