Timothy Lawless – Pedophile tells judge Child Porn is his ‘therapy’

A 24-year-old Calais man told a Washington County Superior Court judge that looking at child pornography served as a form of therapy for him after working with abused children helped him confront his own demons of child abuse.

Under cross-examination by First Assistant District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh, Lawless didn’t have an answer for why he disseminated the pornographic images to two others with comments such as “Hope you’re not disappointed,” and “Hope you like it.”


Judge E. Allen Hunter nonetheless sentenced Timothy Lawless on Wednesday to three years in prison with all but 120 days suspended. Lawless could have been sentenced to up to 10 years behind bars.

Lawless was placed on six years probation and ordered to perform 600 hours of community service. He also has to register as a sex offender for the next 10 years and complete a psychological evaluation from a mental health professional trained in sexual abuse issues.

“He needs some professional health intervention to deal with these issues,” the judge said.

On Feb. 5, Lawless entered guilty pleas to two counts of dissemination and two counts of possession of sexually explicit material. The incidents occurred from November 2006 until May 2007 when he was caught. Some of the images police confiscated were of children under the age of 12, while others were of minors under the age of 18. Lawless admitted he sent two e-mails with sexually explicit images attached to them — one to an individual in the United Kingdom and the other to someone in Scotland. In all, 300 pictures were found in Lawless’ Internet accounts.

On the witness stand Tuesday, Lawless said he was 9 years old when he was sexually abused over a three-day period by a 17-year-old. He said he was ashamed and never told anyone.

In May 2004, Lawless said he was hired first part time and later full time as a behavioral tech at the Calais Children’s Project, a residential treatment program for children who suffer from a variety of medical, emotional, neurological and behavioral problems. He is no longer employed there.

He testified that working at the treatment center brought back memories of his own abuse. He said he felt a connection with the children and felt he could help “fix” the kids, especially those who had been sexually abused.

“I felt my experience would help them,” he said.

Lawless went on the Internet in 2006. He said he looked at the child pornography as a kind of therapy because the images disgusted him and made him cry. He denied he had received sexual gratification from the pictures.

On May 7, Calais police told Lawless they had found the porn in his Internet account and confronted him. He told police his computer had crashed, so they were unable to examine it. After he was arrested, Lawless accepted responsibility and sought counseling. Lawless said he would prefer probation to jail.

“I’d rather be dead than sit in prison,” he told the judge.

Under cross-examination by First Assistant District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh, Lawless didn’t have an answer for why he disseminated the pornographic images to two others with comments such as “Hope you’re not disappointed,” and “Hope you like it.”

When asked why he hadn’t sought counseling from trained professionals at the treatment center, Lawless said he didn’t feel he could trust them because of how they treated the children. He said they “hollered” at them.

Lawless’ psychotherapist, John Helmstadter of Alexander, testified that in the past Lawless kept his problems “bottled up” inside, but with counseling he had confronted them.

Helmstadter suggested Lawless be placed on probation and allowed to participate in community service. “I think this is a man well on his way to being salvaged,” he testified.

Lawless’ mother, Carmen Small of Robbinston, said her son never confided in her that he had been molested. Had she known, she said, she would have sought help for him. She said her son was a “24-year-old virgin” who did not abuse drugs or alcohol. “He was a victim. I wish he’d told me. He has owned up to it and sought help,” she said.

During closing arguments, Lawless’ attorney, Jeffrey Davidson of East Machias, noted his client was not a predatory individual.

“This is not a case of a person seeking out children and preying on them. This is not for profit. Three hundred images is not a lot of pictures in the Internet world,” he said.

Davidson also noted the images were not of youngsters engaged in sexual acts with adults, but were of naked youngsters sitting in various positions. “Tim did make victims of these children but not for self-gratification. He did it to deal with his own issue,” he said.

Cavanaugh disagreed. He said Lawless frequented child pornography sites and forwarded those images on to others. To say the children were just posing, Cavanaugh argued, minimized how serious the incident was.

During sentencing, the judge noted that Lawless had taken responsibility for what he had done, but believed the Calais man was in denial. He rejected Lawless’ argument that he had received no sexual gratification from the images.

“His statement lacks the ring of truth,” the judge said.

He also rejected Lawless’ argument that working with children with problems similar to his helped not only him, but also the children.

“That just doesn’t compute,” the justice said. “[And] his criticism that the staff abused children was not believable … and undermines his credibility.”

Although Lawless’ attorney asked for time before his client had to report to jail, the judge rejected that request. “The day is here, he needs to go,” Hunter said.

Lawless was placed in handcuffs and taken to the Washington County Jail.

Published in: on February 24, 2008 at 7:59 am  Leave a Comment  

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