Minot man sentenced to jail for possession of child pornography
Theo Hudson Cooper, 25, Minot, was sentenced on Monday to five years in prison, all suspended but one year and one day, followed by three years of supervised probation for two counts of Class C felony possession of child sexual abuse material.
The sentences are to be served concurrently.
Cooper will receive credit for 106 days already served in the Ward County Jail, plus 15 days off his sentence for good behavior.
Judge Gary Lee also ordered Cooper to register as a sex offender.
The prosecution had recommended a sentence of five years, with a requirement that Cooper serve four years in prison, followed by probation, which Lee said would not be appropriate because Cooper has no prior criminal record, was in possession of a limited number of images, and because of his age. The defense had recommended that Cooper be sentenced to time served and two years of probation, which Lee also said would not be appropriate because of the nature of the offense, which requires some repercussions.
Baumann then recommended that Lee sentence Cooper to time served and probation, with a requirement that Cooper either get a job or go to college. Baumann explained that Cooper is shy, isolated, with extreme social anxiety and had been spending most of his time living in an Internet fantasy world. Cooper likely did not believe that his actions would cause any harm, said Baumann. Cooper has been deemed at extremely low risk to reoffend. Baumann said a job or school requirement would be of benefit to Cooper and to society at large. Baumann also recommended that the judge give Cooper the opportunity to earn a misdemeanor by disposition, meaning that the C felony charges would eventually appear as A misdemeanors on Cooper’s record if he complies with all court conditions.
Prosecutor Tiffany Sorgen said a job requirement would be setting Cooper up for failure since he appears to lack motivation and has no real job skills and it might be more difficult for him to find a job as a registered sex offender. She also said a misdemeanor by disposition would be inappropriate.
Cooper said he did not know what the judge should do with him and is sorry.
“I would really like to have probation and get the help I need,” Cooper said.
Lee said Cooper will have the opportunity to get that help while he is on probation. Lee said he does think it is important that Cooper have the felony on his record because of the offense. He also remarked that Cooper might end up serving his remaining time at the Ward County Jail, since the State Penitentiary might not bother to come and get him for such a short sentence. If he does go to the State Penitentiary, Lee said he would probably be paroled within 60 to 90 days, as is the common practice of the North Dakota Department of Corrections, and he will serve closer to the full sentence if he remains at the county jail.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed with the court, the Minot Police Department received a report in December 2019 from the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which had received a report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that Cooper had uploaded three illegal images to the internet. The images depict the sexual abuse of young children.
Police obtained a warrant for a search of Cooper’s electronics. According to the affidavit, Cooper acknowledged using the app Discord to chat online and to using the email address associated with the upload of the illegal images. Cooper admitted that he had traded the illegal images five or six times in 2019.