Steven Augustinack, Brainerd citizen of the year, is guilty of kiddie-porn charges

Categories: Crime

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Steven "Gus" Augustinack
Steven Augustinack was named Brainerd Citizen of the Year by the local Junior Chamber Jaycees last October, in part for his work with groups like Youth as Resources and the Sertoma Camp Confidence Club for deaf and hard of hearing children.

A month later, Augustinack was charged with 28 felony counts of possession of child pornography. When the Junior Chamber was asked about the charges in the media, Augustinack announced he wouldn't accept the award.

According to the complaint, Minneapolis police officers working on a child-porn investigation downloaded six videos from an IP address belonging to Augustinack last June. Local police executed a search warrant at Augustinack's Baxter home, where they found some 75,000 videos on hard drives. Of these, 28 contained suspected child pornography.

Yesterday Augustinack pleaded guilty to 18 counts in a deal that keeps him out of prison. Under the terms of the deal, Augustinack will do six months in jail followed by probation.

Why such a light sentence when the charges would have carried five years in prison and $5,000 in fines if Augustinack had gone to trial? We're still waiting to hear from the Itasca County Attorney's Office, which handled the prosecution because of a conflict of interest with the Crow Wing County Attorney.

Todd Webb, the assistant county attorney who handled the plea deal, told the Brainerd Dispatch that he was willing to soften the five-year prison term that the charges would usually carry because "Augustinack accepted responsibility and admitted to the facts listed in the 18 counts of possession of pornographic work involving a minor."

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Mark Gisleson
Mark Gisleson

Nothing makes me more nervous than prosecutors cutting deals in these kinds of cases. Videos? Downloaded from the internet or taken with hidden cameras planted at local grade schools? A pornographic work involving a 17-year-old minor or an 8-year-old minor? 75,000 videos 28 of which were suspected of containing child pornography? (That's 3/100ths of one percent, or less than you'd expect to find given the ginormous amount of child porn the feds have salted the Usenets with.)

I'm not a fan of child pornography or people who are into it, but nothing in your account makes it clear that this guy was guilty of anything more than letting some child porn get mixed in with his adult porn. Again, maybe all the infringing content was of grade schoolers, but I find it hard to believe the prosecutors wouldn't have trumpeted that had that been the case.

And, maybe, this guy is the world's biggest child core porn freak. If so, why did the prosecutor cut a deal? I smell a rat. We publicly flog older men who troll for prostitutes or hit on younger women, but if they stay home and jerk off the government feels the need to audit what they're jerking off to?

Maximilian Orsley
Maximilian Orsley

The details aren't out, it could be the "actors" in the videos were questionable, could have been either way.

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