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February 14. 2013 8:09PM

Exeter man sentenced to prison for his child pornography 'hobby'


ROGERS 

BRENTWOOD - An Exeter man found with 246,000 images of children engaged in sexual acts was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in state prison on Thursday, and remained defiant to suggestions that there was anything wrong with what he called his "hobby" of collecting child pornography.

Thomas Rogers, 46, pleaded guilty to 22 counts of possession of child sexual abuse images in Rockingham County Superior Court for his collection, which included 1,300 video files.

Thursday's sentence was the longest prison term handed down by a state court in New Hampshire for possessing, but not creating, child pornography.

The images and videos were largely kept on seven external hard drives, but Rogers also had printed photographs and a photo album left in plain sight in his bedroom, prosecutors said.

Property managers found some of the photographs on Dec. 22, 2011 while inspecting Rogers' apartment when he wasn't home.

Exeter police executed several search warrants at the apartment and for Roger's home computer, which exposed the larger collection he kept archived.

Rogers acknowledged to Exeter police that he collected the material.

He said in court on Friday that he believed he was deemed guilty on the day he arrived at county jail.

"I don't understand how anybody could be clear-headed about this," Rogers said. "My life is gone. Everything that I hold dear - the one thing I held dear, my daughter, is gone. I have nothing left, your honor. Send me up to Concord and let me get it over with."

Rogers insisted he never harmed his teenage daughter who was living with him at the residence. He was not charged with abusing her.

But Assistant County Attorney Jerome Blanchard said Exeter police uncovered disturbing material that Rogers had kept that contradicted his claims of being a good father.

It included video footage of him hiding a camera in his daughter's bedroom, and recording his daughter and friends when they were over.

"He put it up on multiple occasions," Blanchard said. "You can see him on video. It didn't rise to level of child pornography; however, it shows you who you are dealing with."

Rogers also had photographs of girls as young as 11 years old at a local water slide dressed in bikinis, Blanchard said. Exeter police recognized two of the girls from their town, he said.

He wrote a letter to the Attorney General's Office on Dec. 23 claiming his activity was not illegal. "I am innocent of doing anything wrong in my apartment," he wrote in the letter, saying he had been a good father ever since his daughter was born. "I will not deny I possess a lot of porn. It's a hobby I keep to myself."

Judge Marguerite Wageling told Rogers that he "epitomized the very people" that society needs to be protected from. "You are the poster child of a wolf in sheep's clothing," she said. "For you to stand here and tell me you didn't harm your daughter is fantasy on your part," Wageling said, adding: "You deserve every day you receive from this sentence."



jkimble@newstote.com


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