On Monday the jury found Russel guilty of possession of child pornography 

NIPOMO — San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow announced on Thursday, Mar. 17, that on Monday, a San Luis Obispo County jury convicted Nipomo resident John Paul Russell (DOB 3/23/1968) of possession of child pornography after a week-long trial. The jury also found true that the defendant possessed at least 600 images of child pornography, with at least 10 of those images depicting prepubescent children.

In June 2018, Arroyo Grande Police Department Detective Jim Jolly, while assigned as a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Taskforce, received evidence that a computer in Atascadero was sharing child pornography with other computers over the internet. Detective Jolly’s investigation traced the computer’s internet protocol (IP) address to a business in Atascadero.

The Atascadero Police Department then obtained a search warrant and seized Russell’s computer on Jul. 10, 2018, from his place of work. After a digital forensic analysis on the computer and hard drives, thousands of images and some videos were located depicting child exploitative materials and child pornography. 

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

“Child pornography is exploitation that causes immeasurable harm to its victims when the material is created, and again each and every time it is viewed by another person,” said District Attorney Dan Dow. “Many child molesters possess child pornography, and they often use it to desensitize their targeted victims. Aggressively prosecuting these crimes will serve to both punish individual violators and to deter others from getting involved in this form of child exploitation.” 

To illustrate the extreme harm caused by the proliferation of child pornography, the following is an excerpt from an article published by the United States Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention:

“Today’s Internet is also rapidly becoming the marketplace for offenders seeking to acquire material for their child pornography collections. More insidious than the exchange of sexually explicit material among adults, child pornography often depicts the sexual assault of a child and is often used by child molesters to recruit, seduce, and control their victims. Although not all molesters collect pornography and not all child pornography collectors molest children, significant consensus exists among law enforcement officers about the role pornography plays in recruiting and controlling new victims.

Pornography is used to break down inhibitions and validate sex between children and adults as normal, and it enables the offender to have power over the victim throughout the molestation. When the offender loses interest, pictures of the victim are often used as blackmail to ensure the child’s silence, and when these pictures are posted on the Internet, they become an enduring and irretrievable record of the victimization and a relentless, shame-inducing violation of that child’s privacy.” ojp.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/191213.pdf 

Russell is scheduled to be sentenced on Apr. 21, 2022, at 1:30 pm in Department 10 of the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court, the Honorable Jesse Marino presiding. He faces a maximum term of five years in jail and will have to register as a sex offender for life.

The case was investigated by the Atascadero Police Department and the Arroyo Grande Police Department. 

This case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Melissa Chabra who is assigned to the District Attorney’s Sexual Violence and Child Abuse Unit.

Please contact Assistant District Attorney Eric J. Dobroth at (805) 781-5819 with any questions.