Von Kohorn receives prison sentence

Eric Von Kohorn, the former Wilton preschool paraprofessional accused of one count of illegal possession of child pornography in the second degree, received the disposition of his guilty plea at Bridgeport Superior Court on Oct. 23, and was formally sentenced to six years in prison suspended after two years served and 10 years probation. He will also have to register with the sex offender registry, and will need probation authorization to access the Internet once he is released from prison.

Von Kohorn’s case was “extensively pre-tried,” one state attorney said. The disposition hearing was over in less than 15 minutes.

Von Kohorn made the following statement when given the opportunity:

“I want to add my thanks. I know that this has been a long process. You guys have really worked very hard for me, on both sides, essentially. And, [I’d like] to [give thanks for] all of the support of the town and community. It’s been amazing; I don’t know if I’d be standing here otherwise.”

Judge Robert Devlin offered his thoughts before sentencing Von Kohorn.

“There’s wisdom behind these laws,” he said, explaining they exist to protect children from two separate threats, one being that many consumers of child pornagraphy “really would like to have sexual contact with real children,” but he did not place Von Kohorn among that class, saying, “You’re not in that category.”

The other reason for the legislation cited by the judge was that many of the children depicted in pornographic images and videos are registered in the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

In other words, consuming child pornography is not a victimless crime, even if the consumer does not plan or desire to have sexual contact with underage individuals.

“But let me say this,” the judge said to Von Kohorn. “You strike me as someone who has a combination of traits that can really make a contribution to the world, with your life. You strike me as someone who is highly intelligent. You seem to have a generosity of spirit and humility which is actually admirable. Now, consuming child pornography is not admirable; it’s a bad thing to do, and I’m hoping, that [through] this process, you realize how harmful it is, to you, to your society, to your family and everybody else included in this.”

“These proceedings are not all about making someone feel bad about themselves,” he added. “Sometimes they’re about making someone feel good about themselves, in the sense that, they did a bad thing, but now they’re going to turn a page in the book.”
Von Kohorn was originally arrested by state police Aug. 20, 2014. He was charged with first-degree possession of child pornogrpahy and promoting a minor in an obscene performance.

He was arrested after an investigation by the Connecticut State Police Computer Crimes Investigations team, which commands the state Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

School district officials became aware of the investigation on June 11, 2014, and placed Von Kohorn on administrative leave immediately. He formally resigned his position on June 16, 2014.

Later, the state dropped the charge of promoting a minor in an obscene performance and reduced the charge of possession to a third-degree offense.

According to one of Von Kohorn’s attorneys, Jason Sheffield of Peters Rubin and Sheffield in Atlanta, Ga., Von Kohorn entered an Alford Plea, which allowed him to plead guilty although he disagreed with the state’s evidence. He took this step, Sheffield said, because the state’s evidence against him was great and he realized a jury trial could have resulted in a guilty verdict with a greater sentence.

He entered into the plea July 16 at Bridgeport Superior Court.

Sheffield said Von Kohorn submitted to a polygraph test and psychological testing to prove he “does not have a sustained sexual interest in school-age children … he is not a danger to anyone.

Von Kohorn was hired by the school district in 2007 after undergoing a background check.