Penn Hills Man Indicted on Child Porn Charges

A Penn Hills man has been charged with eight counts of producing and distributing pornography involving children under the age of 12. The announcement came from U. S. Attorney Scott W. Brady.

John O’Donnell, age 50, has been accused of attempting to produce, distribute, and possess material that depicts the sexual exploitation of minors.

The grand jury handed down an indictment last week, and officials arrested O’Donnell on March 23rd.

Today, O’Donnell was ordered detained pending trial by a judge.

Allegedly, between February and April of 2015, O’Donnell forced a child to perform sexual acts and recorded them, intending to produce a video of it. Then, in October of 2017, he allegedly distributed sexually explicit videos and images involving children. Some of those children were under the age of 12. In late December of that year, he was alleged to have possessed other, similar, files.

Federal prosecutors said that if he is convicted, O’Donnell could be imprisoned for up to 210 years, be required to pay a fine of $1 million, or both.

The FBI is helping U.S. Attorney Shanicka L Kennedy to prosecute O’Donnell. Additional assistance is being provided by the state Attorney General’s Office, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, and the Allegheny County Police.

Children who have been sexually abused, which is what child pornography is considered, will often have difficulty sleeping. They may suffer nightmares. Often, they will be hesitant to spend time with a particular person. They may have knowledge of a sexual nature that they should not have at their age. They may become violent or withdrawn.

As you can see from the potential consequences that Mr. O’Donnell faces, child pornography is a felony, which makes it a serious crime. And, O’Donnell has a triple-whammy in terms of charges. However, there are avenues his attorney can take in his defense.

One of the things the lawyer will look at is the child’s testimony. Often, investigators will ask the child leading questions, which taints the testimony. If he can prove that happened, it will go a long way toward getting the charges reduced or dismissed.

Prosecutors must prove that O’Donnell knowingly made the recordings and distributed them. His lawyer might try to show that O’Donnell brought them into the state for scientific, educational, governmental, or medical reasons. Any of those are legitimate reasons for having the pictures.

If he ends up getting convicted, O’Donnell might be required to register as a sex offender for at least 15 years, if not longer, assuming he isn’t sentenced to a long prison term. He won’t have to register until his release.

Megan’s Law requires sex offenders, especially those who have committed offenses against children, to register within three days after their release from jail. They must provide a handprint, a DNA sample, a current address, information about their current employer (such as address and phone number), a photograph, and information about the crime they have committed. Out of state residents convicted of child porn violations in Pennsylvania are also required to register.

Pennsylvania recently did away with its Megan’s Law tier system. Now, in some cases, an offender can get off the list after ten years of no further convictions, depending upon the facts of his or her case.

Beyond the legal ramifications, Mr. O’Donnell will face social consequences, as well. His crime will be known to all his neighbors, family, and friends. He will not be allowed to live within a certain radius of any school, park, or other prohibited place. If he was using the Internet to view or distribute child porn, he could be banned from using it in the future, making job searches, social media use, and other online activities, like paying bills, more difficult. His reputation will be shattered, and his life forever changed.

O’Donnell’s attorney will likely conduct his own investigation into the case. It’s too important to leave it to the police and state investigators.

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