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Rael gets 9 years for child porn

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By Wren Propp

A state district court judge sentenced Los Alamos resident David Rael to nine years in prison on charges of manufacturing, distributing and possessing material that sexually exploited children and a lifetime as a registered sex offender.

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In handing down the sentence, District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer said Rael, 40, has continued to deny the charges, even after he was found guilty by the judge in June following a two-day bench trial in Santa Fe.

The sentencing hearing was held Wednesday in Los Alamos.

“You’re in a pickle with your family. You’re in denial, so they’re in denial,” Marlowe Sommer told Rael.

The judge heard testimony from his family and friends during the hearing that Rael would not have child pornography or try to pass it along.

Members of his family gasped at the sentence.

Rael was arrested in 2014 for allegedly downloading child porn on his computer in 2014 and showing up in a computer data sweep conducted by the Attorney General’s Office.

Rael faced a total of more than 31 years in prison on three counts of manufacturing material, one count of distribution and one count of possession of material that sexually exploited children, the judge said.

Rael will serve the sentences concurrently, with time served accounted for, and five years of parole. He also must register as a sex offender for life, she said.

Assistant Attorney General Celedonia Munoz told the judge that Rael had not admitted what he had done during a 60-day psychological evaluation that he was ordered to undergo following the trial.

“He was still denying any wrongdoing,” she said.

After the sentencing, Attorney General Hector Balderas issued a press release stating Rael’s sentence should give Los Alamos families with children a reason to feel safer.

“My office’s No, 1 priority is protecting New Mexico children from sexual predators and violence,” Balderas said in the press release.

The charges were filed against Rael in 2014.

Before Marlowe Sommer handed down her sentence, Rael spoke in his own defense and pleaded for mercy.

“I am not a pedophile…Some of my past girlfriends have been older then me,” Rael said.

Also before the sentencing, Rael’s attorney Marc Walker Edwards spoke for several minutes outlining the weaknesses in evidence introduced during the trial in June. Out of thousands of files on Rael’s computer, only three were sexually exploitive of children, he said.

Further, the sexually exploitive materials criminal investigators requested over the internet from Rael’s IP address were automatic downloads, Edwards said.

“He (Rael) didn’t need to be sitting in front of a computer to accept the download requests,” Edwards told the judge.

As presented at the trial by an expert for the defense, Rael’s computer didn’t match the characteristics of a typical pedophile’s computer, Edwards said.

For instance, even though his computer had a program to “wipe” histories, downloads and use, he had never used it, Edwards said.

Before handing down her sentence, Marlowe Sommer heard tearful pleas for mercy from Rael’s family and friends, as well as statements from them that Rael wasn’t a pedophile.

“This is not a ‘my poor hito,’ plea from a desperate mother. My plea is for mercy. He is not a child predator. I’m his mother and I would have seen the signs,” said Patricia Romero, Rael’s mother.

Other family members and friends said they believed that Rael would admit wrongdoing if he had done something wrong.

After the sentencing, family members said they are considering an appeal.