A federal appeals court today upheld a North Grafton man's nine-year prison sentence for possession and distribution of child pornography over the Internet.
T. Patrick Kearney argued FBI agents didn't have probable cause for a search warrant of his house - which resulted in the seizure of computers with images of children engaged in sexual acts - because his Internet service provider assigned him a dynamic, or temporary, IP address and that there was inadequate proof that he was the one actually using that address to upload copies of the images.
But in its first ever ruling involving the nature of IP addresses, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit said Kearney might have had a case if only records hadn't shown the address was used to repeatedly access MySpace and Yahoo accounts Kearney was using.
Also noteworthy is that during a chat on June 13, 2008, padraigh8 told [an undercover cop pretending to be a teen girl online] that his last name was "Carney" -- a variant of "Kearney."
And that, the court ruled, was enough to provide probable cause for a search warrant for Kearney's house.
The court also upheld a $3,800 assessment against Kearney to be paid to a girl featured in one of the movies found on his computers. The court said that the girl - now a young woman - has suffered tremendous mental and emotional harm from the video, which was made by her father and which apparently continues to circulate, and that by distributing it, Kearney was guilty of contributing to that harm.