Plea deal unknown in city child porn case: Hundreds of videos found

 

In a city child pornography case that included more than 300 videos, the written plea agreement is missing from the County Court file and is currently unavailable to the public.

Cortland County Court clerks were unable to find the written plea agreement Thursday morning in the case of Benjamin W. Barrett, who pled guilty on Tuesday to one count of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child. An examination of the complete file was made and the written plea agreement was not within it. District Attorney Patrick Perfetti refused to provide information on the terms of the plea agreement in a phone interview this morning stating that the court file contained the plea agreement.

“It’s not the obligation of my office,” Perfetti said. “I have filed it and I cannot explain to you why you can’t find it.”

Perfetti stated that he did not know the details of the plea agreement as the case was being handled by Assistant District Attorney Victoria Monty.

Perfetti stated his office would be informed if a plea agreement was indeed not filed and the agreement was read out loud Tuesday into the court record. A transcript of the court hearing was not available today.

Last week, on Feb. 18, Perfetti provided The Cortland Voice with the recommended sentence in the Byron T. James drug bust plea deal.

County Court Clerk Emily Stith stated Thursday afternoon it is possible that the agreement is still in the possession of Judge David Alexander and that due to the office’s short staffing, the agreement has not yet been placed within the public case file. Normally, plea agreements are available for view by the end of the work day at the County Court Clerk’s office and by the next day at the County Clerk’s office.

Barrett, 35, was arrested Jan. 7 after city police discovered 307 videos of prepubescent girls being sexually abused, according to the Cortland Police Department.

“The videos in the defendant’s possession knowingly included at least one video of a prepubescent female child performing oral sex on an adult male and another video of an adult male engaging in anal sex with a girl who appears to be less than eight years of age,” wrote Assistant District Attorney Jessica Weyant in court documents filed Wednesday. The girls were not identified, according to the Cortland Police Department.

While the actual terms of the Barrett plea agreement are currently unavailable to the public, state law states that the possible sentences in the case could range from probation to no more than four years in prison.

Barrett is scheduled to appear for sentencing on April 20 and Assistant District Attorney Jessica Weyant is listed as the prosecuting attorney, according to a filed court order. He is free until his sentencing.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports it has received 82 million reports of child pornography since 2018, more than 322 million images and videos have been reviewed and 19,100 children sexually abused in the images have been identified. 

Reports of suspected child pornography can be reported to the center at CyberTipline.org.

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