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HOW DAVID ASIMOV, THE BIGGEST CHILD PORN PROCESSOR IN CALIFORNIA SKATED AWAY
FROM FEDERAL PRISON WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS by Kathryn Dixon ©
David Asimov, of Living Oak Court, Bennett Ridge, Santa Rosa, the son of the
late science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, was sentenced on March 28, 2001 to
six months' home detention with electronic monitoring and three years federal
probation for possessing child pornography. U.S. District Court Judge Maxine
M. Chesney sentenced Asimov after reviewing a series of sealed psychiatric
reports, one of which was ordered by the court. Asimov who was charged with
four federal counts of possession of child pornography with each count
carrying a five year sentence, pled guilty to two counts in a plea bargain
deal. There was no forfeiture of any of Asimov's assets in this case,
despite his owning a home in Santa Rosa purchased in 1996 for $375,000, and
despite his receiving $3,000 per month from his father's estate.
How did Asimov, who possessed one of the largest stashes of pornography in
California, skate away from federal prison? A look at the players yields the
Asimov's child porn stash was so big many child victims and perpetrators
would have taken a fall, had Asimov been zealously prosecuted at trial.
Asimov would probably have escaped detection, if he had not taken his
personal computer to a store when its scanner and color printer
malfunctioned. A technician working on the machine discovered images of
children engaged in sexual acts with adults. A store supervisor contacted
the police. Asimov's case is not the only case where tips about child porn
were generated by store technicians. It seems either child pornographers are
stupid about fixing their computers or they are unwitting framed.
The police raided Asimov's four-bedroom home with a search warrant and
discovered the largest child porn "processing center" ever discovered in
"There were thousands of disks, thousands of videos," said Sonoma County
Deputy District Attorney Gary Medvigy, who personally referred to Asimov's
home as a "processing center" for child pornography. "Anything imaginable
regarding sex between human beings and human beings, or human beings and
animals, was there. Whatever your imagination can conjure up, he had it. It
was like walking into a TV studio" Santa Rosa police seized scores of
computer disks and approximately 4,000 videocassettes from Asimov's home, and
approximately 1,000 of those videos contained child pornography.
Medvigy said he had evidence to show Asimov distributed child pornography
through the Internet ``on at least a few occasions,'' which would constitute
a felony. He said Asimov had 14 video machines arranged for high-speed
editing and copying, and possessed cases of blank tapes.
In addition to the videotapes and computer disks recovered, police reportedly
found video cameras, several VCRs, and a costly table-top scanner to create
computer images. "He had a whole lot of editing and mass production
capabilities," Santa Rosa Police officer Zamudio said. "We were greeted by
thousands of tapes, disks, periodicals, and commercial videos with covers
showing child pornography. We spent two days collecting, packaging, and
transporting all the items."
The Sonoma County District Attorney J. Michael Mullins covered up the case,
let the public believe the feds would prosecute it more thoroughly, and then
passed the cover up to U.S. Attorney Mueller.
In March 1998, Asimov was arrested in Sonoma County and charged with two
counts of felony exploitation of a child and possession of pornography.
Asimov faced a maximum state penalty of six years. The identity of the child
whom Asimov alleged exploited was never revealed to the public. Parents and
associates of the child never came forward. Was there a secret settlement in
the style of Michael Jackson? Was any effort at all made to identify the
children in the tapes? In Europe, parents who are looking for their missing
children or for evidence of child abuse are allowed to view pictures of faces
of children depicted in porno tapes which are seized by the police. No one
in Sonoma County reported any photo arrays seized from Asimov's home being
shown by the police to any parents whose children were exploited or
Asimov was arraigned in Sonoma County Municipal Court, with bail set at
$250,000. Asimov spent a few days in jail. His lawyer Andrian said Asimov
had the money to post bail, but preferred to attempt to get out on his own
recognizance. In fact, a few days later, Judge Frank Passalacqua released
Asimov after having been told no local victims were identified in the porn
seized from Asimov's home. Thus, within only a few days of his arrest,
Asimov was released, because the police happened to know no local victims
were involved. How could they have known so fast? Obviously, the Sonoma
County Court didn't care that victims who were not "local" may have been
involved. Someone's child was on those tapes.
"As far as local victims, we don't know of any. There are some homemade
tapes,'' Sonoma County Deputy District Attorney Gary Medvigy told the judge.
Why was a distinction made by the Sonoma County Judge and District Attorney
regarding determining if Asimov's tapes involved "local" victims as opposed
to non-local victims? What did District Attorney Mullins consider to be
"local"? Within Sonoma County? Within California? Medvigy also
acknowledged to Judge Passalacqua that the investigation was still in its
infancy because of the massive amount of material taken from Asimov's house.
Despite the investigation being in its "infancy", Judge Passalacqua set
By releasing Asimov on his own recognizance, the Sonoma County Judge and
prosecutor made it clear that they considered the case to be light weight.
There was no pressure on Asimov to turn in any of his confederates or to
spill the beans, when he was just lounging around his luxurious home,
unemployed and enjoying Santa Rosa life. Asimov was ordered released on the
condition he stay away from children, computers and the Internet. The public
was expected to feel safe because Passalacqua sternly told Asimov he would
have to comply with a list of conditions, including observing a curfew and
allowing a probation officer to search his house at any time, and would have
to take random chemical tests and engage in psychological counseling.
In July 1998, before a preliminary hearing commenced which would have put the
massive amount of evidence before the public, suddenly Sonoma County Deputy
District Attorney Gary Medvigy announced that U.S. Attorney's Office in San
Francisco agreed to prosecute Asimov, 46, thus relieving Sonoma County of the
prosecution. Sonoma Superior Court Judge Frank Passalacqua "conditionally''
dismissed the two felony charges against Asimov related to distributing child
pornography. Passalacqua stated the charges were dismissed only so federal
authorities could file their case and would be reinstated in 30 days if for
some reason federal authorities did not proceed.
Medvigy tried to convince the public that the reason for the dismissal was
that his office was limited in its ability to investigate the sources and
possible distribution of the ``enormous'' amount of child pornography found
in Asimov's home. Medvigy also cited the fact that much of Asimov's porn came
from the internet and involved out-of-state and international sources, which
made it more appropriate for federal authorities to take over. At this
point, J. Michael Mullins apparently wanted the public to believe that the
federal government was going to do a much more extensive prosecution of
Asimov than Sonoma County authorities were able to do.
However, Asimov's attorney shed light on the true reason for the dismissal.
Chris Andrian said he believed Sonoma County prosecutors handed the case to
the feds because they had weak evidence of any felony being committed.
Skating away from prison was on Asimov's mind.
Deputy District Attorney Medvigy stated about the dismissal, "We had hoped to
show that it was not just for his personal viewing pleasure.''
U.S. Attorney Mueller delivered a sweet plea bargain to Asimov.
After having found thousands of images of child pornography in Asimov's
"processing center", District Attorney J. Michael Mullins, washed his hands
of the matter very carefully. Mullins' office and the Santa Rosa police made
public statements that they spent "weeks" analyzing the pornography to
determine whether Asimov was involved in production or merely possessed it
for personal gratification. "I couldn't tell you if it was for personal use,
national use, or international use," Medvigy said. "It's just too early to
Asimov was indicted by a federal grand jury in November 1999 on four counts
of possessing images of child pornography. Because the grand jury transcript
has not been released to the public, the public cannot determine whether
evidence of distribution and sale of pornography was ever presented by the
Did the grand jury see all 1000 videotapes of horrendous child pornography
found in Asimov's home? If so, why did they only find four instances where
pornography was possessed by Asimov? Did the grand jury see any evidence
that Asimov transmitted or received the pornography via the internet on his
computer, or manufactured it with his cameras, 14 video machines and high
tech scanner? Who were the little children depicted on the tapes? Was the
grand jury given any explanation by U.S. Attorney Mueller?
In December 1999, Asimov pled not guilty in federal court, and was released
on his own recognizance. Again this type of release put no pressure on
Asimov. Asimov enjoyed more balmy days at his Santa Rosa home.
The two previous charges in Sonoma County, included distribution of child
pornography and felony exploitation of a child. The federal indictment did
not include these charges, and only included lesser charges that Asimov
possessed child pornography by downloading images from the Internet into his
computer and onto a floppy disk. The federal charges also included the
possession of one videocassette and one foreign magazine with images of
children engaged in sex acts. Each of the four federal counts carried a
potential sentence of five years in prison.
In the summer of 1999, U.S. Attorney Mueller engaged in plea deal with
Asimov, by dropping two counts. At this point, Asimov and his attorney were
close to obtaining a sentence which would not involve state prison or
forfeiture of assets.
Mueller dropped the ball on the Asimov case. Because of the sealed grand
jury testimony and sealed evidence, the public will never know the details
about the one thousand of images of child pornography Asimov used and created
and stored. The public is expected to believe that Asimov never distributed
any of this pornography. From whom did he obtain this pornography. No
public evidentiary hearings were ever held. Mueller did a good job
protecting child pornographers in California.
Judge Maxine Chesney let Asimov skate federal prison by using psychiatric
evidence as a basis for the sentence.
Ultimately, U.S. District Judge Maxine Mackler Chesney gave Asimov an
incredibly light sentence. No prison. The plea bargain limited her sentencing
options, yet she still could have sent Asimov to prison for several years.
Instead, she took the road laid out for her by various psychiatrists.
Asimov's attorney Andrian hired psychiatrists to examine his client. Then
Judge Chesney, herself, appointed a psychiatrist to examine Asimov.
Apparently, the psychiatric reports about Asimov and all his problems were
somewhat convincing, or at least established a basis in the record for such a
light sentence. The public will never know. These reports are sealed.
Judge Chesney was nominated by Senator Diane Feinstein and is the wife of
former San Francisco Superior Court Judge Edward Stern. Judge Chesney served
on the San Francisco Superior Court Bench prior to her appointment.
It is clear that Judge Chesney by this sentencing decision has signaled that
public that even the biggest pornography processor in California can walk
free on the streets.
ASIMOV'S LAWYER CHRIS ANDRIAN PLAYED HIS CARDS WELL FOR HIS CLIENT, AS DIRTY
AS THOSE CARDS WERE.
Early in the case, Asimov's lawyer Chris Andrian, who has represented many
child molesters in Northern California, promoted the theory that his client
was a reclusive man. After his sentencing, Andrian said Asimov's arrest made
him "look inside himself and try to figure out how he got there," even before
Judge Chesney ordered counseling.
The following are various statements made by Andrian throughout the Asimov
case. One can only conclude that Andrian utilized effect mind-control
techniques on the public and on the District Attorney, U.S. Attorney and the
courts by making statements to make his client look less than totally evil
and by making it as easy as possible for the authorities to let his client
skate away from serving a federal prison term.
* "My take on the guy is that he's a reclusive introvert. If he did any of
this it was in the confines of his own home ... It may have been a fantasy
world.'' (At the time of Asimov's arrest.)
* "There's no evidence he sold or distributed to any third person." (When
Judge Passalacqua dismissed the Sonoma County case against Asimov.)
* Andrian said he believes only a fraction of the material seized by police
contains child pornography and many of the videos are for classic TV fare
such as ``I Love Lucy'' and `Leave it to Beaver.'' Andrian said he already
has hired a local psychologist to evaluate Asimov. He said so far, he has not
seen any evidence that his client was involved in distributing or intending
to distribute child pornography, even though that is one of the two felonies
charged against him. (Source: Santa Rosa Press Democrat - when Asimov was
released on his own recognizance in Santa Rosa.)
* Andrian described David Asimov as a reclusive, introverted man, who has
never been married and has no children. Asimov is not wealthy, he said, and
gets a $3,000 monthly stipend from his father's estate. (Source: Santa Rosa
Press Democrat - when Asimov was arraigned in federal court.)
* Andrian said he has seen limited police reports, but ``he (Asimov)
doesn't strike me as in the business of proliferating stuff to others.''|
* Andrian said Asimov gets ``a stipend,'' but said he did not know the
* "I don't know of any evidence that he's selling it (child pornography)
anywhere. I don't know that he needs to.''
* "I don't think they ever uncovered any evidence of intent to duplicate or
disseminate (child pornography) to any third person. If they had, it would
have been charged in federal court.''
* "In the worst-case scenario, if they prove their case, the guy is a
consumer, not a producer.''
* Andrian disputes that the amount of child porn was that high, saying
Asimov was a collector of all types of videos, including classic TV fare such
as ``Ozzie and Harriet'' and ``My Three Sons.'' (Source: Santa Rosa Press
* "I want to believe (Asimov) can put this behind him, that he learned his
lesson and knows it's not appropriate.''
U.S. Attorney Mueller, District Attorney J. Michael Mullins, the Santa Rosa
Police, the FBI and U.S. District Court Judge Maxine Chesney all taught Mr.
Asimov his lesson. They also taught a lesson to the children depicted in
Asimov's 1000 video tapes, who suffered during the making of these brutal
sexual exploitation tapes. These children, unlike Asimov, will not be able
to put this matter behind them. Their fate, if they are still alive, makes
Asimov's six-month sentence of six months of sitting at his home with an
electronic monitoring bracelet on his ankle, look like a day at the beach.
Om, Shalom, Salaam.
Em Hotep, Peace Be,
All My Relations.
Omnia Bona Bonis,
Adieu, Adios, Aloha.
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