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Man admits to judge that he downloaded child porn

ALPENA — Downloading photos of unclothed children led an Alpena man to stand before both a district and a circuit court judge on Tuesday.

Loren Beard, 59, waived his preliminary exam, at which the court decides if there is enough evidence to continue the case toward trial, in Alpena’s 88th District Court before Judge Thomas LaCross.

He immediately, through defense attorney Devin Pommerenke, pleaded guilty to possessing and sharing child pornography, also before LaCross, who at that point served as 26th Circuit Court judge.

Beard, wearing the orange uniform of the Alpena County Jail, struggled to respond to some of the judge’s questions as LaCross tried to determine whether the defendant was willingly giving up his right to face accusations against him in a preliminary exam.

“I wanna go home,” Beard told the judge, when asked about his desires as to what would happen next.

“You’re not going to go home, sir,” LaCross told him, ensuring the defendant understood the repercussions of an exam waiver and a guilty plea.

Beard admitted to downloading photographs of children in sexual positions from the file-sharing software BitTorrent to his home computer in April 2018.

Because BitTorrent software shares images with other users as they are being downloaded, the photos Beard obtained were forwarded to a detective with a Michigan State Police task force, leading to his arrest and prosecution by the Michigan Attorney General’s office.

Beard was at first confused when asked in court about sharing the photos, saying he didn’t know they were distributed to others through the software.

Beard finally acknowledged to the court that he had downloaded the files, including a video of an adult engaging in sexual acts with a child, and had shared the files with others, albeit inadvertently, which legally constitutes distribution.

He will return to court for sentencing.

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A Flushing man made an appearance in Alpena’s 88th District Court Tuesday to face first-degree charges of sexually abusing a minor younger than 13.

Robert John Clark, 52, through his attorney filed a motion requesting that the court order the prosecution to turn over relevant audio- or videotaped forensic interviews conducted by Alpena’s Child Advocacy Center.

LaCross granted the request for the confidential interviews, cautioning that they may only be used in an appropriate defense.

Clark, arrested in December for offenses alleged to have occurred in September 2018, is listed in court records as a habitual offender, with at least five previous felony convictions, including felony larceny of over $100 in Alpena County in 1995.

He is scheduled for a preliminary examination at the beginning of February.

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A Lincoln man was sentenced Tuesday in Alcona County’s 23rd Circuit Court to at least 15 years in prison for assaulting a 10-year-old girl.

William Todd Gutzman pleaded guilty in December to two counts of second-degree criminal sexual assault on the child, for which he recieved 12 to 30 years’ prison time.

While in jail awaiting trial, Gutzman attempted to convince someone to lie to help his cause, earning him an additional charge of attempted subornation of perjury, or trying to convince a witness to give false testimony.

He was sentenced to three to 10 years for that charge, with the sentences to be served consecutively.