Judge Delays Sentencing Liptak to Allow Victims’ Testimony

Posted March 4, 2005 at 6:37pm

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, stating that the court had yet to consider input from victims, delayed issuing a jail sentence Thursday to a former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms employee who pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography.

“This is not a victimless offense,” Sullivan said, later adding: “I think it’s appropriate to factor into sentencing the impact on the victims.”

Under federal sentencing guidelines, the defendant, Daniel Liptak, could face up to 30 months in prison. He pleaded guilty in October to one count of possessing 10 or more images of child pornography.

Sullivan noted that cases similar to Liptak’s are not common in the district court, and he suggested that allowing victims — either the children involved, their fiduciaries or related organizations — to provide input during the sentencing phase could set a precedent.

Liptak, who worked as a computer technician in the Sergeant-at-Arms office until 2001, has spent the past year in the District of Columbia’s Correctional Treatment Facility.

During the hearing, Liptak, formerly of Roanoke, Va., initially declined an offer to address the court, at which point Sullivan sharply rebuked him.

“He has no apologies for even the victims in this case,” Sullivan said. When Liptak then offered to speak, the judge added: “It’s very unusual someone doesn’t have something to say at the time of sentencing.”

Before making his formal statement, Liptak defended himself, noting he believed the judge had advised him not to speak. He then proceeded to read testimony he prepared before the hearing.

“What I concluded from this is that unfortunately I let myself get out of control. That’s obvious,” Liptak said. “I’ve made a complete mess of things, my life. This has put my family through hell.”

Liptak, wearing a blue prison jumpsuit, continued, stating that he has lost his job, as well as his home.

“It was a terrible error on my part,” Liptak said.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Liptak downloaded photographs from pornographic Web sites to a pair of government computers while working in the SAA offices in the Postal Square Building on Massachusetts Avenue Northeast.

In May 2001, other employees in the office discovered Liptak’s activities when he accidentally sent a photograph of a naked girl to a communal printer.

Although Liptak requested his co-workers not mention the incident to anyone, the employees reported his activities and supervisors placed Liptak on administrative leave.

Senate officials then contacted the FBI, which conducted an examination of Liptak’s desktop computer, as well as a Senate-owned laptop computer he used, and found Liptak had viewed pornographic Web sites and stored images from those sites on both computers.

He had also sent e-mail to pornographic Web sites using his Senate e-mail address.