William McCants in 2010 spent several weeks eluding law enforcement and justice on charges concerning child pornography, but today he begins a 16-year prison term for the crime.
A grand jury indicted McCants, 46, on 100 felony counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, pandering sexually oriented material involving a child and pandering obscenity. He pleaded guilty to the charges.
He appeared for sentencing Thursday before Judge James C. Evans of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
The investigation into McCants, who lived part-time in Youngstown and Akron, began when his estranged wife brought police a computer disk she found with images of McCants and young, nude girls.
After police obtained arrest warrants for McCants, he disappeared for a short time but was found while patronizing an adult-entertainment store in the Akron area.
McCants, before being charged in Mahoning County, already had been convicted of sex crimes involving minors in Hamilton County. He had been required to register as a sex offender as a result of the previous conviction.
Natasha Frenchko, an assistant Mahoning County prosecutor, said McCants agreed to plead guilty to the indictment as charged without any changes. She said prosecutors also agreed to the plea because there was some concern about seating a jury that could stomach the evidence, which included images of children in compromising situations.
“We believe that a 16-year [prison] recommendation, considering his age and history, is appropriate,” she said. “You always run the risk of going to trial where someone on the jury might not agree with our case.”
Frenchko said the images and videos found in McCants’ possession were extensive.
“He was charged with 100 counts, but there were more than 100 images with children ranging in age from the very young and images involving child rape,” she said.
McCants maintained addresses in Youngstown and Akron, and Frenchko said police tried to identify the children in the images, but were unable to do so.
McCants said little while standing before the court before sentencing. His attorney, Ross Smith, asked the court to consider a more lenient sentence of about five years.
Judge Evans handed down multiple sentences on the charges, some to be served concurrently, for a total of 16 years.
McCants also was fined $15,000, required to register as a sex offender, and will spend five years on parole upon his release from prison.