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Wednesday
Jul132011

Loophole Allows Alleged Rapist to Watch Child Porn

Comstock/Thinkstock(TACOMA, Wash.) -- Alleged child molester Weldon Marc Gilbert of Washington State, accused of raping young boys, will watch hundreds of child pornography videos this week while he sits in jail -- the same footage police found in his home -- because he's acting as his own defense attorney.

A judge approved Gilbert's request based on a previous Washington Supreme Court ruling that allows a defense attorney to review evidence against a client.

But officials said this is the first time a defendant has been granted that kind of access.

On Wednesday, Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist told ABC News he's gearing up for a fight.

"In my 16 years as a prosecutor, this is one of the most absurd and maddening results I've ever heard of, and this is the first time I'm aware of this happening in Pierce County," said Lindquist. "We don't have to turn over the guns used as evidence for a defendant…and it's absurd that we have to turn over the child porn as evidence."

Gilbert, who appears in several of the videos, was charged with child rape, child molestation and sexual exploitation of a minor in 2007 after the older brothers of two alleged victims called police.

A former United Parcel Service pilot who goes by his middle name, Marc, he had allegedly lured the boys to his Lake Tapps home after providing coveted trips in his sea-plane, boat or helicopter. Witnesses said Gilbert, 50, would give the boys alcohol and spank their bare buttocks. In several cases, prosecutors said, Gilbert allegedly engaged the teens in masturbation and other sexual acts.

Detectives searched Gilbert's home and found a stash of videotapes and DVDs depicting 250 scenes involving 40 individuals, including one of a boy who was 12 years old. The officers also found a cassette tape on which Gilbert allegedly described his spanking fantasies, in addition to sex toys, paddles, blindfolds, spanking devices and two handguns, among other items.

Lindquist is planning to appeal the judge's ruling that allows Gilbert to review the child pornography, and he said he's also going to the legislature.

"This is a law that needs to be fixed," he said.

This year, however, the Washington State legislature failed to pass House Bill 1001, which was sponsored by 12 representatives and would allow alleged victims of sex offenders to be questioned by a court-appointed attorney in cases in which the alleged sex offender represented himself or herself in a criminal prosecution. It would prevent accused sex offenders from questioning their alleged victims. Opponents of the bill argued the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gave all criminal defendants the right to confront witnesses.

Regardless, judges can limit the questions the defense is allowed to ask. In this case, Lindquist said, Gilbert's questioning would be "highly limited" because the judge has already restricted the defense's ability to directly question the alleged victims.

Gilbert can, however, ask questions indirectly. The judge would have the authority to strike any questions found unnecessary or improper.

In the meantime, Gilbert will be watching the footage with the private investigator he hired. The rest of the inmates at the Pierce County Jail will not be able to see the porn because Gilbert and his private investigator are required to view the footage in a private interview room.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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