Ex-GOP House aide faces prospect of more child porn charges

  • Article by: JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 25, 2013 - 9:34 PM

A former administrator for the state House Republican Caucus had hoped to put child-porn charges behind him.

Rory Koch in 2002

Rory Koch -- who was running for Ramsey County commissioner while under investigation for possessing child pornography -- went to court on Friday trying to get his case dismissed. Instead, he learned that the state plans to file more charges against him.

Judge Edward Wilson rejected the defense contention that simply viewing video files does not constitute possession, and he set the matter for trial for late February.

Koch, 39, served as a committee administrator for the Minnesota House Republican Caucus when charged last March with 12 counts of possessing child pornography. He's since lost his job.

Not only is he charged this week in Ramsey County District Court with those 12 counts of possession of child pornography, but prosecutor Karen Kugler said she's now deciding how many more counts to file against him next week.

Seized computers

She could file up to 56 more counts because there were a total of 68 images allegedly found on his computer, though prosecutors typically don't file a count for every single image found.

The charges filed on March 1 came long after investigators seized two Dell computer towers from Koch's St. Paul apartment in September 2010 and began their forensic probes of his computer use.

A criminal complaint alleges that he possessed pornography of naked, prepubscent boys and girls showing their genitalia and sometimes in sexually suggestive positions.

When charged, Koch was a candidate for a seat on the Ramsey County Board, and he went on to receive 25 percent of the vote in an unsuccessful bid to unseat Fourth District incumbent Toni Carter.

The child-porn investigation was not public knowledge at the time.

On Friday, Koch's attorney, Timothy Webb, argued that the case should be dismissed because viewing child pornography does not constitute possession under state law. Webb maintained that Koch didn't share or save the files, which would constitute possession, and that around the country other courts have reached the same conclusion.

Webb said after Koch looked at the images, they were stored temporarily in a cache, which he could not access, and had never been moved to the common area of the computer.

The defense attorney used the analogy of someone walking down a sidewalk and seeing a photo of child porn on a bulletin board. If that person views it but walks on, the person doesn't possess it. But if he or she takes it down and takes it with him or her, that would constitute possession.

The same holds true for images viewed on a computer, Webb said.

Computers searches

The judge noted, however, that the state alleges Koch searched out and possessed files, as well as e-mails he received indicating he was interested in child porn, with wording such as "We love boys" and "male pedos," among others.

The judge also noted that the evidence indicates that not only did Koch send the files to others early on, but also to himself.

More charges

The state maintains that the images were found in different parts of the computer, not just the cache, hence the decision to file yet more charges to include images in various parts of the computer.

Kugler, the prosecutor, also pointed to other court decisions that contradicted Webb's argument.

In denying the motion to dismiss, Wilson noted that it was Koch's Internet address that was used to send out child pornography images.

Koch declined to comment on his case.

Joy Powell • 651-925-5038

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