Former Columbia science professor Kevin Fuller was sentenced to six years in prison after he was convicted of possessing and distributing child pornography.
He plead guilty to possessing more than 100 images of sexually explicit acts being performed on prepubescent children, many of them infants.
The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo on Feb. 9 at the Everett McKinley Dirksen Courthouse, 219 S. Dearborn St.
Castillo opted to give Fuller eight weeks to surrender himself and begin his sentence. Fuller’s defense attorney, Keith Scherer, asked that Fuller serve his time in a rehabilitation institute in Florida to remain close to his family, who resides in Georgia. The sentencing hearing was initially scheduled for Jan. 11 but was rescheduled.
“These images were unique,” said April Perry of the U.S. Attorney’s Office who was representing the prosecution. “Almost all the children were under five. Many were being brutalized by adults. They’re more violent than we normally see.”
Before handing down his sentence, the judge went over a list of aspects which worked both in favor of and against Fuller.
“Fortunately for you, you’ve been well represented,” Castillo said, before addressing Fuller’s age, 43, as a worry. “The one thing that gives me concern about your age is your capacity to re-offend.”
Scherer did not try to defend the act of possessing or distributing child pornography, but he instead asked for understanding.
“I’m the last attorney in this town who’s going to stand in front of a judge and say ‘This isn’t a big deal,’” Scherer said to the court.
There were a number of provisions outlined which Fuller must adhere to during the time leading up to and after his incarceration. He must comply with psychological and physiological examinations, register as a sex offender and comply and pay for a computer and internet monitoring program.
Fuller is also prohibited from coming in contact with anyone under the age of 18, unless a “responsible adult”—which Castillo did not define—is present and aware of his conviction. His probation officer must also approve.
Castillo said the provisions are extensive, but they are in place to reduce any future danger to the community.
Members of Fuller’s family from Georgia were present for the court proceeding to show support. His mother, Bobbie Fuller, took the witness stand and told the court how she knew her son was sexually abused as a child.
“He came to me at age six and told me he’d been sexually abused,” his mother said. “I found out it started around age three.”
Castillo offered his sympathy to Fuller’s family, especially his mother.
“My heart goes out to [Mrs. Fuller] for having to come in here and to see [her son] sentenced.”
Before Castillo informed him of the amount of time he was to serve, Fuller gave his apologies to those who may have suffered from his actions.
“This experience has taught me things I need to know,” Fuller said. “[The victims] suffered in ways I didn’t appreciate. I’m deeply ashamed of what I’ve done and I know nothing I can say can make up for what I did.”
The judge compared the victims of Fuller’s crimes with those of murder to show the similarities and severity.
“There’s no such thing as child pornography,” Castillo said. “It’s no different than looking at a photo of someone shot in the street. Their life has been taken.”
Castillo is a vice chair on the United States Sentencing Commission. The commission is responsible for interpreting sentencing guidelines for the federal court system.
Initially, the prosecution recommended that the judge sentence Fuller to a period of 9-11 years. However, Castillo deemed that to be unnecessary.
“[The sentence] is sufficient, but no longer than necessary,” he said.
Additional coverage and history of Fuller’s case