Despite concerns he is a potential suicide risk, Jesse Ryan Loskarn, the fired chief of staff for Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, has been ordered released into the custody of his parents and will spend the month or so until his grand jury trial in their Sykesville, Md., home under detention.
The 35-year-old, who wore a short-sleeved orange jumpsuit on Monday during his second appearance in the District’s federal courthouse — just blocks away from the Capitol where he worked for more than a decade — will be confined to house arrest, prohibited from accessing the Internet and have his every move monitored by an ankle bracelet.
A Justice Department attorney argued that releasing Loskarn could be a bad idea. Mi Yung Park, a trial attorney with the agency’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, said Loskarn may be intent on harming himself based on “demeanor and comments he made at the time of arrest,” carried out Dec. 11 by Postal Inspection Service agents who swept his Southeast D.C. home for evidence.
Park said Loskarn, who is facing up to 30 years in prison if convicted on charges of possessing and distributing child pornography, could also be a danger to the community. She reminded the judge that the hundreds of explicit videos allegedly found on his hard drive featured “not just barely legal” 17-year-olds, but also children as young as 6. She also noted that the government has evidence that Loskarn has been active on peer-to-peer file sharing sites for at least three years.
Building a case for his release from jail, defense attorney Pamela Satterfield said Loskarn had no previous criminal record, “strong ties” to the D.C. community where he has lived for 14 years and had done nothing to suggest that he might be contemplating suicide.
“It’s not a concern,” Satterfield said. “It’s simply not a concern for Mr. Loskarn.”
Before making his ruling, Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola asked Loskarn’s parents, Chuck and Laura, who sat side-by-side in the far back corner of the courtroom, about the electronic devices in their home.
Laura Loskarn told the judge that her family has “no desktop PC” and confirmed that all cellphones and the two iPads in the home are password-protected. Chuck Loskarn draped his arm around his wife while the two addressed the judge. They confirmed that Loskarn’s brother, Chaz, and sister-in-law, who both live in the couple’s Maryland home, will help monitor the former Capitol Hill staffer.
Under the terms of what’s being called a “high-intensity supervision” program, Loskarn is being released on his own recognizance but is not allowed to leave his parents’ home except for legal purposes or emergency medical visits. In many jurisdictions around the country, child pornography charges would result in jail detention with a high bond value, according to Scott Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association.
“This is obviously a very serious and very disturbing allegation: child pornography,” Burns told CQ Roll Call, “but in some jurisdictions, they are so large and overcrowded that it’s usually people charged with murder, people charged with rape, people charged with aggravated robbery,” or other violent crimes that are held in jail until grand jury proceedings.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.