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Mandatory minimums will apply when Wausau man is sentenced on child porn charges

in Sirens

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — A Wausau man convicted this month of possessing thousands of images of child pornography will spend at least three years in prison, thanks to a 2012 Wisconsin law that sets mandatory minimums for such crimes.

Richard Pijan, 51, was convicted Feb. 2 of 15 counts of possessing child pornography, just days before his trial was set to begin. As part of the plea agreement, 34 additional charges were dropped. He’ll be sentenced April 16.

Before April 2012, the law required that suspects convicted of possessing child pornography receive three years in prison, but allowed judges to place the suspects on probation “if the court finds that the best interests of the community will be served and the public will not be harmed and the court places its reasons on the record.”

Legal experts say the poorly-written law was changed to remove the exception because legislators believed that judges were sentencing too many of those defendants to probation instead of prison.

The only exceptions that the revised law allows are for defendants younger than 18 and for those who are less than four years apart in age from the person depicted in photos for which they were convicted, a rule that wouldn’t apply to Pijan.

Possession of child pornography is a D Felony, which has a maximum penalty of up to 25 years in prison and $100,000 in fines for each count. At 15 counts, that means Pijan is facing up to 360 years in the Wisconsin Prison System.

When Pijan is sentenced, Marathon County Circuit Judge Greg Huber will be obligated to sentence Pijan, a registered sex offender convicted of child sexual assault in 1998, to at least three years in prison on each count. However, Huber can decide if the sentence for each charge will be served concurrently, which means at the same time, or consecutively, which would mean a minimum prison term of 45 years.

During Pijan’s Feb. 2 plea hearing, Huber ordered a presentencing investigation be completed prior to passing down sentence. During the presentencing investigation, a probation officer will review Pijan’s criminal history, ties to the community, education and employment history, family background, and willingness to accept responsibility for his actions. The report helps the court fashion appropriate and fair sentences and is used by probation officers later assigned to supervise the individual after reentry.

Richard Pijan has been jailed on a $50,000 cash bond since his May 2016 arrest as part of Operation New Hope, which was part of a larger sting called Operation Broken Heart.

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