Baton Rouge lawyer and former state liquor lobbyist Christopher Young, who claims federal child porn charges filed against him last year are the product of a "selective and vindictive" prosecution, has failed to persuade a federal judge to discard the case.
U.S. District Judge John deGravelles denied Young's request in a 159-page ruling Monday, even though he stated he is sympathetic to Young's contention that he's not a child pornographer and only forwarded videos of boys engaging in sex acts with donkeys to friends, family and clients in 2013 and 2015 as a crude joke.
A Baton Rouge lawyer and former state liquor lobbyist on Thursday characterized as a "crude …
"We are disappointed that the Court did not throw out the charges against Chris altogether, even though it emphatically disagreed with the government's charging decision," Young's attorneys, Billy Gibbens and Marci Blaize, said in a statement Tuesday.
"However, we are confident that a jury will agree with the Court's common sense analysis of the facts — that Chris is not a child pornographer and that Chris did not believe he was distributing child pornography," they added.
Young, the brother of former Jefferson Parish President John Young, has called his sending of the videos a mistake.
"It certainly was," deGravelles wrote. "What he did was, by his own account, the kind of gross, juvenile, and unthinking act the Court suspects has probably been engaged in by millions (if not more) of high schoolers and college fraternity boys.
"But the language of the criminal statutes under which he is charged contains no exemptions from criminal culpability because his purpose was not sexual gratification but, rather, to engage in locker room humor," he said.
The judge also said Young's conduct in openly sending the videos to family, friends and clients "doesn't square with the conduct of others before me charged with the same offenses, defendants allegedly surreptitiously prowling the internet and receiving hundreds or thousands of child pornographic images which are viewed and shared with other child pornographers for sexual gratification."
"No matter how emphatically this Court may disagree with how the Government exercised its discretion in this case, it is powerless to affect that decision unless (Young) is able to prove that the Government's decision was unlawful. He has not," deGravelles wrote.
The judge set a March 20 trial date for Young on charges of possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography.
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U.S. Attorney Walt Green declined comment on deGravelles' ruling, citing the pending litigation.
Young claims he was unlawfully targeted for prosecution because he refused to cooperate in a public corruption investigation and because he was a lobbyist at the time. He terminated his lobbying business and registration after a Baton Rouge federal grand jury indicted him in May.
Young's attorneys had argued to deGravelles that federal authorities were interested in Young only because of his lobbying activities before the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control and his friendship with former ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert.
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The key question that needed resolution in Young's selective prosecution claim, according to deGravelles, was whether Young was prosecuted "because of" his First Amendment rights to lobby and associate. The judge answered that question by saying Young has not proven that prosecutors acted with a desire to prevent him from exercising his constitutional rights, "be it his right to lobby or his right to associate."
The judge stated further that Young's claim "is, in essence, more a claim that he was prosecuted for not cooperating rather than for lobbying or associating under the First Amendment."
"But case law establishes that refusing to cooperate is not a protected constitutional right, so there can be no selective prosecution claim," he wrote, adding that the federal prosecutors involved in Young's case "did not act to punish the Defendant for the exercise of any right."
Prosecutors have said Young distributed child porn bestiality videos on 33 occasions to 38 people.