CLEARFIELD – A jury deliberated for approximately 20 minutes Wednesday morning before finding a Frenchville man guilty of possessing a large volume of child pornography.
Dennis Paul Hudgens, 68, was found guilty on 50 counts of child pornography, plus one count of conspiracy/child pornography, all felonies of the third-degree.
Before she announced the jury’s verdicts, the forewoman started to weep. The court then granted her request to read the verdict for each offense rather than for each of the 51 counts.
The jury entered into deliberations at approximately 10:26 a.m. and reached their verdicts at approximately 10:47 a.m. Following the verdicts, jurors were polled individually and declared their agreement.
District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. prosecuted the case on behalf of the commonwealth. Hudgens was represented by defense attorney Joshua Maines of Clearfield.
Though Hudgens’ sentence is up to the court, he’s expected to serve a minimum of 50 years in prison, or effectively a life sentence, Shaw said, noting Hudgens has a lengthy history of felony convictions.
On Tuesday Cpl. John Sours of the Pennsylvania State Police Computer Crime Unit testified that on Oct. 16, 2018, he discovered someone sharing files of child pornography on the Internet.
He found the files originated from an IP address serviced by Verizon, obtained subscriber information and traced this IP address to Keewaydin Road in Covington Township, Clearfield County.
Trooper Nathan Brown of the PSP Bureau of Criminal Investigations’ Computer Crime Task Force said a search warrant was executed on the residence on Dec. 20, 2018.
He said no one answered the door; however, Hudgens was located in a camping tent he lived in nearby. He agreed to speak with the trooper inside his unmarked unit.
As a routine safety protocol, troopers conducted a “pat-down” search of Hudgens, at which point something small could be felt inside his pants pocket.
Brown said Hudgens removed an SD card and turned it over to police. He said in the first interview, Hudgens said he didn’t have any knowledge of child pornography being downloaded there.
Cpl. Bernard Novak, supervisor of the PSP Northwest Region Crime Unit, testified on Tuesday that investigators found over 5,000 files containing child pornography on the SD card in Hudgens’ possession.
Also, he said a laptop, which was recovered from Hudgens’ tent, contained a “CP” folder on its desktop with roughly 3,000 child pornography files.
Novak said investigators located a local victim because Hudgens related his friend, Anthony J. Terrizzi, showed him pornographic images/videos he had produced of the 10-year-old girl.
Throughout the interview process, Novak testified that Hudgens changed his story multiple times. He said initially he knew nothing about child pornography, then he’d seen it once a long time ago.
Novak said Hudgens finally admitted he’d not only seen child pornography on the laptop seized from his tent, but also that its “CP” folder was loaded with it.
He said Hudgens related that Terrizzi was a registered sex offender on state parole, and that he (Terrizzi) had told him the night before he was worried about getting locked up again.
According to testimony from Novak, Hudgens said Terrizzi wasn’t permitted to possess computers, external storage devices, etc., which is why Terrizzi brought him the laptop with the SD card on Dec. 19, 2018.
Novak said Hudgens admitted that he’d removed the SD card from the laptop and placed it in his pants pocket in order to protect his friend from prosecution by law enforcement.
In closing, Maines admitted jurors saw a lot of “difficult” material and heard a lot of “difficult” testimony. “It’s a tough case,” he said, reminding jurors the commonwealth had the burden of proof.
“You all were shown some pretty disturbing, pretty disgusting videos and pictures … there’s no getting around it, and it’s not what’s in dispute here.”
Maines said the defense brought the case to court to dispute the fact that Hudgens possessed the SD card “knowing” it contained child pornography.
He said it’s been Hudgens’ contention all along that Terrizzi not only possessed the child pornography, but also produced it himself with a 10-year-old girl he knew.
Maines asked jurors who was more likely to be guilty – Hudgens or Terrizzi. He argued Hudgens was homeless, not computer savvy, etc., while Terrizzi had the “child pornography problem.”
Shaw countered, saying Hudgens was among a body of people known as child pedophiles, and was caught with an SD card with over 4,500 images of “kiddie porn” in his pocket.
He said Terrizzi and Hudgens were “collectors” of child pornography and 1,000s of image and video files didn’t end up on their electronic devices by some mistake.
Shaw told jurors that Hudgens wanted to be “sly like a fox” and claim he didn’t know anything, but when it came down to it, he knew the laptop was “loaded” and what was on the SD card.
He said any reasonable person who discovered something so “morally offensive” would have immediately called police, even if it were on their best friend.
“Innocent kids were having unconscionable and unspeakable things done to them,” he said, adding while only one is known, each and every one deserved justice.
Terrizzi entered an open guilty plea in his child pornography and sexual assault cases on Aug. 8 and is scheduled for sentencing in September, Shaw said.