LISBON - An East Liverpool man was sentenced to prison on Friday for using a local public library's computer to access child pornography.
Ronald L. Keener, 48, of Avondale Street, was sentenced to 14 months in prison by Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge C. Ashley Pike after previously pleading guilty to pandering obscenity involving a minor and illegal use of a minor in nudity oriented material or performance.
The charges carried a maximum possible sentence of 30 months in prison, but Assistant County Prosecutor Tim McNicol recommended Keener be sentenced to 14 months as part of the plea deal. Keener will also be required to register as a Tier II sex offender.
The crimes occurred in March 2013 when Keener was using a public terminal at the Lepper Library in Lisbon when a member of the library staff saw he was acting "odd and attempting to conceal what he was doing," McNicol said. Authorities were alerted and investigators determined that Keener had been accessing child pornography sites.
"We don't know who the children are in these pictures ... but I certainly would not characterize this a victimless crime," McNicol said, adding the children are no less victims than if they knew their identities.
McNicol also disputed that Keener accidentally found these sites while searching the Internet. "These images did not just pop up when he turned on the computer," he said, noting that Keener's search activity clearly showed he was looking for the material he found.
When it came time to be sentenced, Keener said he was ashamed. "What I did was wrong. I've never been in trouble before," he said.
Judge Pike told Keener he deserved prison time but urged him to take advantage of programs available to help him. "Don't waste your time. It's up to you," he said.
Skylar Baum, the library's computer consultant, said they have a "filter" software designed to block users from websites of this sort, but the program had yet to be installed on the computer used by Keener.
Computer users at the library are required to sign in, but to protect their privacy there is also a software program that removes personal information from public view, but Baum said they are still able to search for user history if needed.