Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=230210
Story Retrieval Date: 8/30/2014 9:24:56 PM CST
Former Illinois State Rep. Keith Farnham had his initial court appearance Wednesday on federal charges of possessing child pornography and was ordered held under house arrest.
During the hearing, at federal district court in Chicago, Farnham gave only yes-no responses to questions by Magistrate Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert. Dressed in a suit, he also carried a portable respiratory device with tubes leading into both of his nostrils.
Previously, Farnham said he suffers from pulmonary fibrosis, a lung condition, and had been receiving treatment for bladder cancer.
The order for his house arrest is effective at least until his next scheduled hearing May 7.
The 66-year-old lawmaker, who twice co-sponsored bills that strengthened penalties for child pornography, resigned his seat March 19, citing his health conditions.
His resignation came less than a week after Homeland Security agents searched his office and home and confiscated several computers and one hard drive. One of the computers was state-owned and contained two explicit videos, according to law enforcement officials.
The criminal complaint alleges that Farnham used the email address firstname.lastname@example.org in “an extensive online trading relationship with dozens of individuals in which hundreds of images and videos of suspected child pornography were sent from and received by the [email account].”
The document also includes chat transcripts in which kimdavid5582 boats about molesting a 6-year-old girl and claims “12 is about as old as i can handle. i love them at 6 7 8.”
Farnham served in the U.S. Navy for four years and later represented the 43rd district, which includes northwest suburban Elgin, in the Illinois House as a Democrat from January of 2009 until his resignation in March.
According to the terms of his incarceration, Farnham must have no contact with minors and may not access computers or the Internet.
His attorney told the court that while there were computers in his house, Farnham does not know the passwords. His wife, Susan Farnham, who is to be his third party custodian, is charged with not letting the former representative online.
According to a source familiar with child pornography cases, it is not unusual for a defendant to be held under house arrest with similar terms if he does not present a flight risk.
If convicted, Farnham faces up to ten years in prison. Both he and his wife are to appear at the next scheduled court date at which time she will be informed of her duties as third-party custodian.