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Posted January 10, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Judge allows two mental health exams for child porn defendant

By Joe Beck

A California man convicted on charges linked to the production of child pornography videos in a Frederick County home will undergo two mental health evaluations before his sentencing under a ruling by U.S. District Judge Michael F. Urbanski.

Urbanski's ruling came in response to requests from the defense and the prosecution for separate evaluations to be conducted on John Stuart Dowell.

The evaluations will be the second and third that Dowell has undergone in a year, according to court documents. Urbanski's order also grants Dowell $2,400 for the evaluation requested by the defense, less than the $3,000 that had been sought.

Dowell, 46, is facing a potentially lengthy prison sentence after pleading guilty last year to 13 child pornography counts, 12 of them for filming illicit material while knowing or having reason to know it would be transmitted across state lines or U.S. borders. He also pleaded guilty to a single count of transmitting child pornography online.

Urbanski's decision on Jan. 2 follows a motion by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Healy in which she attacked a mental health evaluation of Dowell filed by a psychologist. Healey asked Urbanski for a chance to hire a psychologist of her own to analyze the report.

Healy argued the report "is contradicted by the extensive child exploitation behaviors of the defendant, as well as the child abuse depictions that he produced and the volume of other images he possessed."

Dowell's attorney, R. Darren Bostic, filed a motion late last year asking for a mental health report to update the one his client underwent almost a year ago. Dowell would be evaluated by Jeffrey Fracher, the same psychologist who performed the earlier evaluation, Bostic said.

"The court has reviewed the existing psychological evaluation of Jan. 12, 2012 and defendant's explanation, and now finds that an updated psychological evaluation is appropriate," Urbanski wrote in his decision.

Dowell, originally from Santa Cruz, Calif., was scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 16, but has been rescheduled for March 20.

Urbanski's order granting the mental health evaluations also allowed Bostic to file a letter questioning parts of the probation's officer's pre-sentence report on Dowell. Bostic said in court documents he wants additional time to study the probation officer's conclusion that Dowell's offenses carry a life sentence under federal sentencing guidelines.

Urbanski set a deadline of Feb. 18 for Bostic to submit the letter to him.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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