An Anchorage therapist who worked with children of Alaska military personnel was sentenced Monday to 22 years in prison for producing and receiving child pornography, according to Anchorage police and the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Police say a 2009 search at the West Anchorage home of Andrew William Young, 48, yielded the largest collection of physical evidence for a single child porn case in Anchorage. Young, at the time a lieutenant commander with the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, managed clinical services for children of active duty service members at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Fort Richardson and Kodiak Coast Guard Station, and supervised mental health staff treating children, according to his resume.
Young pleaded guilty in 2010 to receiving child pornography in Alaska and taking photos of a nude 10-year-old boy while he was stationed at a Texas Air Force base.
Neither of the charges to which Young pleaded guilty in 2010 indicate he abused Alaska children with whom he worked. But according to a supplemental sentencing memorandum filed in federal court earlier this year, a child has since come forward with an allegation that Young touched the child through clothing during therapy sessions. Young's attorney denied the allegation, according to the November memorandum
"The United States does not believe there is sufficient evidence to issue new criminal charges at this time, nor does the United States intend to present the evidence at sentencing in order to increase Young's sentence of imprisonment," the memorandum says.
When asked for comment, a spokesman for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson said no one who worked with Young remained at the base and they were therefore unable to immediately answer questions about his job or any subsequent investigation by the military.
According to his resume, Young specialized in the treatment of children with mental health issues and worked with a team that assisted in notifying families of the deaths of deployed military personnel, among other job duties. He was stationed in Alaska in 2008 after working in Texas, Florida, Virginia, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Germany and Iraq. According to Young's resume, he holds a Ph.D. in adolescent male development, a master's degree in social work and, before coming to Anchorage, worked as a school counselor and as a special-needs educator and founded a nonprofit summer camp to treat sexually abused boys.
His interest in child pornography extended back to at least 1983, according to court documents.
"Young has repeatedly put his sexual self-gratification before the protection of children, despite the 'helping' profession he appeared to be dedicated to," wrote federal prosecutor Audrey Renschen in a sentencing memorandum. "Closer examination of his career choices suggest they were intended to sexually satisfy him rather than to serve children's needs."
After Young's arrest in 2009, Detective Tammy Dunn said police acted quickly due to his daily interaction with children.
According to documents filed in federal court, Dunn received a tip about Young in October 2009. She began an online search for child porn using file-sharing software and found explicit movies in a publicly shared folder on a laptop later traced to Young. Police served a search warrant on Young's home, where they found about 750 videos and 4,300 images of child sexual exploitation.
Police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker said the pornography amounted to a large pile of media, including digital hard drives, thumb drives, printed photos and reels of 8 mm film.
repulsive porn collection
Young's collection included depictions of animals engaged in sex acts with children, children in bondage being sexually abused, "sadistic or masochistic conduct" and other violent behavior, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Young said he was embarrassed to be in court and claimed that the pictures and videos were research, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
"I don't doubt it's for gratification," Judge John Sedwick said at the sentencing hearing, according to the statement from the U.S. Attorney's office.
Federal agents interviewed Young after the October 2009 search, the court papers say. Young told them he lived alone. He said he used file-sharing software to download digital content and recently used it to get nonsexual videos. Young said he never kept files on his laptop for long and that he would transfer them to external hard drives.
In December 2009, an agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement contacted a 17-year-old believed to be the boy in photos taken by Young. The teenager identified himself as the 10-year-old in the photos and said Young had taken them in Young's home in Wichita Falls, Texas, where he was stationed at the time. Young's friends, viewing "sanitized" versions of the photos, confirmed they were taken in Young's house, according to the court documents.
The plea agreement called for a total sentence of between 15 and 25 years in prison. Sedwick agreed with prosecutors that putting Young behind bars for many years was necessary to protect the public.
In addition to the 22-year prison term, Sedwick sentenced Young to a lifetime of supervision upon his release. Conditions include no contact with minors without adult supervision, no employment or activities near places primarily used by minors, registration as a sex offender, and the surrender of any therapist, educator or social worker licenses Young holds.
At the Monday sentencing hearing, Sedwick described Young's crimes as "very, very serious," adding that they "steal children's childhood."
"I can't imagine a worse thief," Sedwick said, according to the written statement. "(These acts) were unspeakably horrible things to do to a child."
Reach Casey Grove at email@example.com or 257-4589.