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Ex-security guard at Walmart gets 9 years on child-porn charge

Kathy Lynn Gray, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio –

U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus was not swayed by the apologies and admission of guilt by a man who collected child pornography and secretly videotaped a child in a public bathroom.

“These children are being taken advantage of in the worst possible way,” an emotional Economus told the East Side man standing in front of him in shackles. “These are real victims, … and what you were viewing was the sexual exploitation of children.”

With that declaration yesterday, the judge sentenced Okey Belcher, 29, to nine years in federal prison and 25 years of supervised release and fined him $2,500 for receiving child pornography. The charge carries a minimum prison sentence of five years.

Belcher was caught on Dec. 5 after a 9-year-old boy told his father that someone had videotaped him with a cellphone in the Walmart restroom at 1693 Stringtown Rd. in Grove City.

Belcher was arrested, and investigators from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement found 700 images and 100 videos of child pornography on his home computer and iPod touch. The images included prepubescent boys and girls as well as sadistic, masochistic or violent conduct, which increases the severity of the offense under federal law.

The Walmart victim and his parents attended yesterday’s sentencing but did not make a statement.

Economus, however, noted that the boy now sees a counselor, is on medication and is being home-schooled because of what happened.

Belcher, of Hibernia Drive, told investigators that he had tried several times to record boys in Walmart restrooms. He worked as an undercover security officer at the Grove City Walmart.

During the hearing, he apologized to “my family and the family I impacted Dec. 5.” Turning to his assembled family and friends, he pledged that his punishment would be his “payment to God” for his actions.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Hill said Belcher’s conduct was beyond that of many child-porn collectors because he boasted that he’d had sex with a minor and had Internet chats that showed his behavior was becoming more dangerous.

Belcher pleaded guilty in February. His attorney, public defender Steven S. Nolder, had asked for a seven-year prison sentence and 10 years of probation. The government had recommended 17 to 22 years in prison.

According to a sentencing memorandum, Belcher has “an innate fear of rejection” stemming from a childhood spent with an alcoholic father who threatened to kill his mother and with a mentally handicapped half brother who required much of his mother’s attention.

By high school, Belcher weighed more than 400 pounds and turned to the Internet and child pornography to escape his problems, the memorandum says.

Belcher will have to register as a sex offender for 25 years after he is released from prison.

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