Monday, June 15, 2009

Denis Wagner Admitts to Soliciting Sex from Children in Internet Chat

A Carmel Valley man who admitted soliciting sex from children in Internet chat rooms was sentenced to 90 days in jail Friday for possessing child pornography.

Denis Wagner, 72, was placed on three years probation and prohibited from being in the presence of minors without a supervising adult.

Retired Judge William Burleigh requested that Wagner not be required to register as a sex offender, but Judge Terrance Duncan rejected the plea and ordered Wagner to register for the rest of his life.

Burleigh said he hired Wagner to rebuild his Big Sur home after it burned down last year. He said Wagner's Internet activity was an aberration for the "brilliant designer" he spent time with on nearly a daily basis.

"I know him," he said. "He's just not that type of person."

Prosecutor Amy Patterson said content on Wagner's computer and his admissions of online conversations he had with children as young as 10 years old showed otherwise.

She said that on Wagner's computer, there were more than 400 images of children engaged in sexual activity, some of them requested from children he contacted in chat rooms.

"This is very serious," she said. "There are a lot of victims out there who have been exploited because of what he's done."

Defense attorney Larry Biegel attributed Wagner's actions to "social isolation."

"People have been known to satisfy social isolation by getting into virtual worlds," he said.

Wagner's ex-wife attended Friday's hearing to support him.

Wagner is among the writers who contributed works to "The Anthology of Monterey Bay Poets" and participated in "The Big Read: The Poetry of Robinson Jeffers" in October, the month before his arrest.

Duncan cited Wagner's age in sentencing him to less than the 150 days in jail that was recommended by the probation department.

At Biegel's request, the judge said Wagner could apply for home confinement, though he made no recommendation about whether that should be granted. He gave him until Aug. 5 to begin serving his jail sentence.

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