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Eugene man pleads guilty in sex abuse case involving teen.

Byline: Bill Bishop The Register-Guard

A Eugene man was convicted Wednesday on 50 charges alleging that he downloaded Internet child pornography and passed it to a 15-year-old boy in order to induce the boy into sexual acts.

Kurt Allen Downs, 53, entered a plea deal in the case for a maximum 20-year term, in part to appeal his convictions and challenge the Oregon Supreme Court's rulings that make his actions a crime, defense lawyer Elizabeth Baker said.

Even if he wins the appeal, he won't avoid prison.

Downs, who also was convicted of molesting two boys in 1984, pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree sexual abuse, third-degree sodomy and first-degree encouraging child sexual abuse for sexual activities with the 15-year-old.

The appeal on the 50 other charges, relating to Downs obtaining and passing along Internet child pornography, could test Oregon's laws making both downloading and sharing child pornography illegal, Baker said.

Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings indicate the nation's highest court may consider downloading child pornography for personal use to be protected as a free speech issue.

The highest court also indicated that transmitting child porn may not be a crime unless prosecutors have proof of the sender's intent.

The Oregon Supreme Court currently holds that transmitters of child pornography are presumed to have the intent to induce someone else to engage in sexual activity, Baker said.

For the case to reach the nation's highest court, it first must be appealed through the Oregon Court of Appeals and Oregon Supreme Court, which may refuse to hear it. The case must then follow the same course in the federal court system, a process that will take years.

The Downs case came to light in June when the 15-year-old victim was charged with molesting a 4-year-old boy. The 15-year-old told police he was acting on Downs' suggestions when he victimized the 4-year-old, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by investigators in the case.

Downs and the 15-year-old met on the Internet at a site designated for gay Oregon teen-agers, the affidavit says. The boy told police he visited Downs' home in Eugene a half-dozen times.

Downs could have faced up to 67 years in prison if convicted on all the charges in the case. Lane County Circuit Judge Lyle Velure set sentencing for Monday.
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Title Annotation:Kurt Allen Downs plans to challenge Oregon's free-speech law on appeal; Crime
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 18, 2003
Words:383
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