A Wilmington man set to be sentenced on Wednesday was ordered to surrender his laptop for further search after he entered an Alford plea of guilty to child pornography charges in October in Highland County Common Pleas Court.
Seth Parshall, 29, pled to three counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance, a fifth-degree felony, following several months of criminal proceedings.
Parshall’s lawyer, Bruce Wallace of Mt. Orab, argued on Wednesday for a probation sentence, saying Parshall reportedly only viewed the child pornography once and deleted it the next day. Wallace said he is unlikely to commit the offense again.
Judge Rocky Coss delayed Parshall’s sentencing hearing until Wednesday, Dec. 20 at 10:30 a.m., and ordered him to surrender his laptop for investigation to see if Parshall has viewed similar content since 2014, when the initial offense occurred.
Parshall said he bought the laptop shortly after the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation confiscated his computer in 2014.
Parshall said he works as a server at a Wilmington restaurant and as a piano technician, and uses the laptop for work-related activities.
Addressing the court on Wednesday, Parshall outlined the steps he has taken to “lead a more organic life,” such as deleting social media and surrounding himself with family and people of faith.
“I am truly sorry to those that I’ve hurt,” he said. “I was taught from a young age that character is everything. I will spend the rest of my life rebuilding mine.”
Parshall asked the judge to allow him to “stay with the people who I know will empower and guide me to be the best person I can be.”
Highland County Prosecuting Attorney Anneka Collins argued for a term of incarceration.
As reported by The Times-Gazette, Parshall was initially indicted in June by a Highland County Grand Jury on eight counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance, and three counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor, a fourth-degree felony, after Google alerted local law enforcement to obscene content contained in files allegedly downloaded by Parshall in May 2014.
Collins said in court Wednesday that the Highland County Sheriff’s Office forwarded the case to BCII, and bureau agents confiscated Parshall’s laptop and examined its contents.
A bill of particulars filed in the case alleges that Parshall visited a chat room on the internet at the time, and during Skype conversations expressed interest in images of young boys age 8 and up. Parshall then allegedly downloaded multiple files he was sent containing images of young boys engaging in sexual activity, the bill stated.
Parshall admitted he downloaded the files to his Google Drive account, looked at the pictures, then deleted them the following day, according to the bill.
The type of plea Parshall entered in the case, an Alford plea, is distinguishable from a regular guilty plea in that it does not admit the criminal act and asserts innocence, but admits that the evidence would likely persuade a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Although prison time is not mandatory in Parshall’s case, each charge can bring up to one year in prison, and if a prison sentence is imposed, the court can order the sentence on each separate charge to be served consecutively for a total of up to three years.
Parshall is now a Tier-I registered sex offender.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.