Youngstown man gets probation, internet ban

YOUNGSTOWN — Nathan D. Lee, 23 of Youngstown, was sentenced to five years of probation Tuesday after pleading guilty to one count of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles and was ordered not to use the internet for three years.

Lee was indicted on one count of pandering obscenity involving a minor or impaired person, a fourth-degree felony, but prosecutors amended it to one count of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, a fifth-degree felony.

Kevin Day, county assistant prosecutor, said the prosecution and defense jointly recommended that Lee be placed on five years of probation and be prohibited from using the internet for three of those five years.

During the hearing, Judge Anthony D’Apolito of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court asked Day the reason why the prosecution is recommending no prison or jail time for Lee when usually there is prison or jail time in such cases.

Day said the facts of the case are different from many others in that defendants typically have “thousands of images.” In this case, the defendant has one charge, and law enforcement found “a single video, which is one too many, obviously, your Honor, a depiction of child pornography.”

Day said Lee “said he was downloading pornography, and it is possible he was downloading things off of the dark web, and that is how he came into possession of these materials. They were found on a flash drive at his residence,” Day said.

Day said Lee has no criminal record. “I think the amendment is appropriate in this case given the fact that we are looking at a single file,” Day said.

Walter Ritchie, Lee’s attorney, asked the judge to adopt the sentencing recommendation, saying “I don’t believe he was actually searching for child pornography.”

The judge noted that investigators were not able to recover internet-search information from Lee’s electronic devices, so it’s not possible to determine whether Lee was “looking for child porn.” If that was present, the judge probably would have incarcerated Lee, D’Apolito said.

The judge told Lee he will “give you the benefit that you were looking for porn, and the child porn came with it.” He told Lee he should “understand how close you were to going to prison. And if you violate any terms and conditions I am going to set forth here today, you will go to prison.”

The judge said the time without internet on devices such as a computer or phone is because “you cannot be trusted to go on the internet.” The judge ordered Lee to be evaluated for counseling for searching out pornography, and he must comply with the counselor’s recommendations.

He also ordered Lee to perform 60 hours of community service.

Have an interesting story? Contact Ed Runyan by email at erunyan@vindy.com. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribToday.


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