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Ex-Biglaw Partner Who Possessed Kiddie Porn Pleads Guilty To Child Sex Trafficking

Edward De Sear

A story that we thought couldn’t get uglier just did. Edward De Sear, a former partner at several top law firms who stood accused of child pornography distribution, pleaded guilty to four counts of distribution of child pornography and to sex trafficking of a child.

One could argue that federal sentences for mere possession or even distribution of child pornography are too high. As noted in a 2012 article in USA Today, in some cases “offenders who possess and distribute child pornography can go to prison for longer than those who actually rape or sexually abuse a child.”

But if you possess child pornography, distribute child pornography, and sexually abuse children in real life, you deserve to go away for a very long time. What kind of sentence did Edward De Sear receive?

Here’s a report from NJ.com:

A prominent Bergen County corporate lawyer has pleaded guilty to the sex trafficking of a six-year-old boy across Europe, while separately admitting that he had distributed hundreds of graphic images and videos of child porn, some of which depicted small children being raped.

Edward M. De Sear, 67, of Saddle River, was sentenced in Newark federal court on Thursday to 17.5 years in prison, and was ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution to his victims, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said Thursday. He pleaded guilty to one count of sex trafficking of a child and four counts of distribution of child pornography.

That’s a hefty sentence. But given the gravity of his crimes, even an “affluenza” defense wouldn’t have helped the wealthy lawyer. And he’s not as wealthy as he once was: right after the sentencing, his lawyers turned over checks totaling $1.2 million, with $1.1 million going to the abused boy and $100,000 going to the victims whose images De Sear distributed.

I feel uncomfortably close to this story. I grew up in Saddle River, where my parents still live, and I served as an AUSA in the office that prosecuted De Sear (where I was colleagues with De Sear’s defense lawyer, John Vazquez, a former federal and state prosecutor who’s now at Critchley Kinum and Vazquez).

But many other people in the legal profession have crossed paths with De Sear. The UVA Law graduate practiced at a plethora of leading law firms, including Allen & Overy, Bingham McCutchen, McKee Nelson, Orrick, and Milbank Tweed.

Here are the awful details about Edward De Sear’s sex trafficking:

According to federal prosecutors, De Sear, who was formerly a partner at New York firm Allen & Overy, paid a man cash in June of 2011 to travel with his six-year-old son from Paris to Brussels, Belgium, where he sexually abused the boy.

One has to wonder what kind of parents would sell their six-year-old son to a sex trafficker. And note that this transaction took place in Paris, not the developing world. (But such crimes can happen anywhere; France was the setting for the film Taken.)

UPDATE (3:45 p.m.): More about those parents, from the Bergen Record:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Faye Schwartz told the judge that the government could prove that DeSear facilitated the child’s international travel by, among other things, paying cash to the boy’s fathers, a same-sex couple who were sentenced in Indiana earlier this year to 30 and 40 years in prison. The couple, Mark J. Newton and Peter Truong, both citizens of Australia, bought the infant from his Russian mother for $8,000 in 2005, took him to various countries where they allowed other men to abuse him, and made hardcore videos that were distributed across a global pedophile network known as the Boy Lovers network, according to authorities.

A former colleague of De Sear previously praised him to us as friendly, normal-seeming, and a font of helpful advice. But these days one probably wouldn’t take advice from him, except for a lesson that De Sear learned the hard way: stay away from child porn.

Saddle River lawyer admits to sex trafficking of young boy across Europe, child porn distribution [NJ.com]
Once-prominent Saddle River lawyer sentenced to prison for sex trafficking charges [Bergen Record]
Former BigLaw partner gets 17 years in sex-trafficking case, says FBI may have saved him from hell
[ABA Journal]
Ex-A&O, Bingham Partner Gets 17 Years for Child Porn Plea [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

Earlier: Former Allen & Overy Partner Indicted on Additional Kiddie Porn Purveyance Charges
More About the Former Biglaw Partner Accused of Child Porn Distribution
Allen & Overy Partner Accused of Kiddie Porn Purveyance
Quotes of the Day: Way Harsh

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