Settlement rejected in UMHS child porn case

By Adam Rubenfire, Daily News Editor
Published September 18, 2012

The criminal case against Stephen Jenson, a former University medical resident who was arrested for alleged receipt and possession of child pornography at the University of Michigan Health System, is still undergoing deliberations nearly a year after his arrest.

Though Raymond Cassar, Jenson’s defense attorney, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Roth have come to a consensus on an agreement after months of negotiations, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn refused to immediately accept the plea agreement on Thursday.

According to court documents, Cohn took the plea agreement “under advisement,” meaning he will not accept the plea agreement at this stage in the case.

The agreement, which was released on Friday, would drop a charge of receipt of child pornography that is pending against Jenson in exchange for a guilty plea for possession of child pornography.

A charge of receipt of child pornography carries a minimum of five to 20 years, while possession of child pornography carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. The guideline range for Jenson’s offense is 70-87 months, according to the agreement, which notes that his sentence should not be below 36 months.

If he is sentenced to prison, the agreement calls for a supervised release of no less than 60 months after he serves the sentence.

Per the agreement, Jenson would also be required to join the federal sex offender registry and would be mandated to update the registration for at least 20 years, and possibly throughout the rest of his life.

University of Michigan Health System officials waited six months to report a fellow resident’s account of discovering Jenson’s child pornography in the residents’ lounge in May 2011. In an internal review of the case released in February, University President Mary Sue Coleman called the delay a “serious failure on the part of the institution.”

Cassar pointed out that Cohn may be concerned with the sentencing in the case because Jenson possessed a small amount of child pornography compared to other offenders.

University Police seized 97 photos and four videos of child pornography from Jenson’s home last December, as opposed to most offenders who accumulate thousands of images and videos, Cassar said.

Cassar said Cohn was also apprehensive that the agreement waives Jenson’s right to appeal a conviction for possession of child pornography, as well as his right to appeal a sentence if it doesn’t exceed the maximum of 10 years.

Though it’s often common practice for federal prosecutors to include a waiver of appellate rights, Cassar said Cohn is a “very fair judge,” and showed his concern for Jenson's legal rights.

Cassar said he and Roth will wait to see what action Cohn will take in the coming months.