David Linnehan of Granby sentenced to prison for hoarding child pornography, hacking Springfield College students’ computers

Last modified: Wednesday, February 25, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — A former Springfield College employee who admitted to hoarding child pornography and hacking college students’ computers to access photographs was handcuffed in court Tuesday and led away to start his eight- to 10-year prison sentence.

Judge Mary-Lou Rup sentenced David M. Linnehan, 39, of Granby, to two consecutive state prison sentences adding up to between eight and 10 years, plus another 30 days in the Hampshire County House of Correction.

Rup also recommended that Linnehan be allowed to serve at least part of the state prison sentence in the Hampshire County House of Correction so he could continue to be treated as a sex offender by a Westfield therapist. She also sentenced Linnehan to five years probation after his release and ordered him to pay $3,900 in restitution to a victim whose childhood sexual abuse was depicted in an image or video he downloaded.

Rup told Linnehan that she imposed the sentence because while he was not responsible for creating most of the over one million images and videos of child pornography found in his possession, he and others who download them create a demand for the images and thus he has contributed to the rape, abuse and exploitation of children.

Two assistant attorneys general, Nancy Rothstein and Thomas Ralph, asked Rup to impose a 10-year state prison sentence followed by five years of probation. Rothstein said that Linnehan had an insatiable appetite for child pornography and could be a danger to all children, including his own 5-year-old son.

In her argument, Rothstein read from extremely sexually graphic emails Linnehan had sent to a California woman in asking her to photograph her young daughters in the nude. Rup interrupted Rothstein and after a brief private conversation, Rothstein stopped using graphic language in her argument.

Linnehan’s attorney, David P. Hoose of Northampton, asked Rup for consecutive House of Correction sentences to total between three and four years. Hoose said his client is remorseful and disgusted by his own addiction to child pornography, and has been improving since starting treatment with therapist Roy Dudley of Westfield. Hoose said the House of Correction sentence would allow Linnehan to see his father and to continue therapy with Dudley.

Linnehan pleaded guilty Feb. 3 to two counts of exhibiting or posing a child in a state of nudity, eight counts of distributing child pornography, 11 counts of possessing child pornography, 13 counts of gaining unauthorized access to a computer, and one count each of attempting to commit a crime, unlicensed possession of a firearm, and improper storage of a firearm.

The attorney general’s office learned in March 2013 that Linnehan had emailed child pornography. Police arrested him the following month and recovered 11 electronic devices that contained child pornography, as well as a pistol that was not locked or legally possessed.

Linnehan admitted Feb. 3 to asking for and receiving naked photographs from a 14-year-old girl from Vermont, and also to exchanging emails including child pornography with Amanda Lambert of California. He convinced Lambert to send him photographs of her young children, and she is serving a 22-year federal prison sentence for the crime.

Linnehan also admitted to using his position in the Springfield College information technology department to access the computers and email accounts of 11 adult students and download images.

Child sexual abuse

In court Tuesday, Rothstein said Linnehan had images and videos of “extremely, extremely severe” child sexual abuse, and she showed several images and at least one video to Rup.

Rothstein said Linnehan was “pulling the strings” when he was emailing Amanda Lambert and the girl from Vermont. “It was Mr. Linnehan who made these girls victims of child pornography,” she said. She said that a stiff sentence for Linnehan could help deter people from creating and possessing child pornography.

Federal investigators were able to locate one of the victims whose abuse was depicted in the child pornography in Linnehan’s possession, Rothstein said. That victim wrote in a letter to Rup how much the abuse and the exploitation has affected her life. “Every time someone presses play on a video or views an image, that child is victimized again and again,” Rothstein said.

Hoose cited several reasons in asking Rup to impose a sentence less than called for by the sentencing guidelines. Hoose said that while Linnehan encouraged the production of the images,he did not take them himself. Linnehan only shared images with two people, as opposed to distributing them widely on the Internet, Hoose said. And he added that his client never found any “titillating” images on the Springfield College students’ computers.

“He knew what he was doing was wrong,” Hoose said. “He couldn’t stop himself.”

He argued that efforts to rehabilitate people who are addicted to child pornography are often successful, and said Linnehan has already made a lot of progress in addressing his addiction.

Hoose submitted a report in which Dudley described his impression of Linnehan after two years of therapy, group sessions and tests. “Mr. Dudley says testing indicates he is not at risk to reoffend,” Hoose said.

He said that as part of his treatment, Dudley requires sex offenders to read aloud impact statements from their victims. When Linnehan read the statement from the woman to whom he will pay restitution, Hoose said, “He was visibly emotional and upset and broke down crying.”

Rup imposed numerous conditions of probation that the attorney general’s office requested, including that he pay restitution each month for a total of $3,900 to the victim who was identified.

Rothstein argued that Linnehan not be allowed to have unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16, including his 5-year-old son. “He’s a pedophile, in his own words,” Rothstein said.

While on probation, Linnehan is not allowed to be alone with children under 16, including his son, or have contact with them without permission from a parent or guardian, or to work or volunteer in a position that would lead to contact with children. He must undergo any recommended sex offender or psychological treatment, register as a sex offender, wear a GPS tracking device, stay away from schools, amusement parks and other places where many children are likely to be, and allow the attorney general’s office to destroy his electronic equipment that held the pornography.

He cannot own or access any pornography, use a computer for anything other than a work-related purpose, and cannot use the Internet to communicate with others, with the exception of email. He also must allow probation officers access to his computer and email.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.


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