‘It was abhorrent,’ Hershey man says as he’s sentenced in child porn case

A Hershey-area man who insisted he has a “kind heart” will serve 3 to 23 months in Dauphin County’s work-release center after pleading guilty to 10 charges of possessing child pornography.

“I know that what I did was not merely illegal,” Randall Preston said as Judge John F. Cherry prepared to sentence him Thursday. “It was abhorrent. It was selfish. And it was immoral.”

Yet, he insisted, “What I did is far from my normal behavior.”

Preston’s sentencing came a year after the state attorney general’s office charged the 52-year-old with having child porn on his personal computer. Defense attorney Casey Shore said there is no evidence Preston ever shared those files.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Christopher Jones said Preston’s guilty pleas mean he will have to register with state police as a sex offender for life. Under the terms of a plea agreement, Jones declined to recommend a sentence.

Shore told Cherry that Preston, who is involved in medical research with a private firm, “is a highly-educated man” and is working toward his second master’s degree. “He comes from a good family, a military family.”

Preston is undergoing counseling for mental health issues, and was “completely cooperative” with investigators, Shore said. In asking for leniency, he said it is not uncommon in such cases for defendants to receive probation sentences.

“I have no doubt that Mr. Preston will not be a problem again,” Shore said.

Preston told Cherry he has a “deep sense of remorse” for his crime.

“I do believe he’s truly sorry,” Cherry said. Nevertheless, he added, “This is conduct that society disdains greatly, because it is at the very least committed against our children.”

He said he is convinced some incarceration is warranted in Preston’s case. “To not do that would be to send a message, and it would be the wrong one, that we’re going to ignore this because he is an educated man,” the judge said.

Cherry also fined Preston $2,000 and ordered him to serve a consecutive 3 years of probationce. Preston is to start serving his sentence next week.

Source: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2015/10/it_was_abhorrent_hershey_man_s.html