PORT ANGELES — A former analyst-programmer was sentenced to nearly five years in prison Thursday for possessing and distributing 7,000 images of child pornography involving known victims of sexual abuse.
Clallam County Superior Court Judge Lauren Erickson meted out the 57-month sentence to Digi Fre’nnson, 54, of Port Angeles, who told her he did not realize what he was doing.
“In addition to the known victims, there are an untold number of unknown victims who have yet to be identified in Mr. Fre’nnson’s collection,” according to a June 13 pre-sentence investigation in which Fre’nnson did not participate.
He had pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree dealing in depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and one count of possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct between March and July 2017.
Fre’nnson pleaded guilty under an Alford plea, under which a defendant says, “I believe there is a substantial likelihood that I would be convicted should the matter go to trial” and is making the plea “in order to take advantage of the state’s plea offer.”
“I didn’t knowingly spread anything even though I pled guilty to it,” he told Erickson.
“But my mental condition at the time was such that I was at the edge of just giving up on life,” Fre’nnson said Thursday.
“That’s pretty much all I’m going to say, that I just pretty much didn’t care what was going to happen to me.
“I was just looking for a way out.”
Fre’nnson said he had been treated for depression at a resident center.
“Unfortunately it came too late,” he said.
“There’s nothing I can do about it now.”
The last time Fre’nnson worked was 2007.
He said his medication causes confusion and short-term memory loss.
A federal Department of Homeland Security investigation turned up more than 12,000 images of child pornography on two computer hard drives at Fre’nnson’s apartment in the 100 block of West First Street. where he had lived for about two years.
He was arrested after a Homeland Security agent stationed in Port Angeles, in search of internet sharers of child pornography, used a peer-to-peer file sharing application to connect with with Fre’nnson, who had shared four pornographic images of girls believed to be 5 to 7 years old, according to a probable cause statement.
“He knew he was possibly sharing child pornography files with other individuals,” according to an interview with two Homeland Security special agents.
His two hard drives held 38,248 image files and 27 video files of suspected child exploitative material.
“Fre’nnson stated he knew he could get into trouble for possessing child pornography, but he couldn’t stop himself,” according to the statement.
Fre’nnson “grossly underestimated” the number of images he downloaded, according to the June 13 pre-sentence report, submitted by state Community Corrections Officer Ray Gaydeski of the Port Angeles Field Office.
“He admitted to deleting the images and then being unable to stop himself from seeking similar images again,” according to the report.
“It is that final statement that gives me the greatest cause for concern.”
Gaydeski said the images and videos documented the abuse of children who are re-victimized when internet users share them.
“Most survivors report that the distribution of their images impacts them differently than the original sexual abuse because the distribution never ends and the images are a permanent record of the original abuse,” he said.
The children are vulnerable for various reasons, Gaydeski said.
They may be human-trafficking victims, runaways, homeless children, abductees or mentally ill.
Gaydeski said sexual abuse trauma victims can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, self-harm, behavioral problems, fear and hyper-vigilance, nightmares, suicidal thoughts, fear of being touched, unwillingness to undergo medical examinations, mistrust of adults, aggression and sexual promiscuity.
Nine members of the Department of Homeland Security were listed as witnesses for Fre’nnson’s trial, which had been set to occur by July 31.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.