PITTSBURGH — A former Boy Scout leader from western Pennsylvania who collected hundreds of images of child pornography was sentenced Thursday to more than seven years in federal prison, and his attorney said none of the material was related to the youth service agency.
Christopher Sokiera, 41, of Shaler Township, apologized to the child victims depicted in his collection, his parents, the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts before a federal judge in Pittsburgh handed down the 87-month prison sentence.
“He apologized ... to everyone he’s shamed,” defense attorney Frank Walker II said after the sentencing.
“He passed a lie detector and he was specifically asked about that,” Walker said, noting that Sokiera denied ever possessing, sharing or creating any pornography relating to the Boy Scouts.
Sokiera had been a volunteer and adviser for the NIscha Nimat chapter in the Beaver Valley and Seneca districts of the Boy Scouts before his arrest last year.
Detectives from the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office charged Sokiera in October after getting tips from an anonymous online service that reports suspected child pornography about online traffic to and from Sokiera’s personal computer. The Boy Scouts issued a statement then saying Sokiera’s behavior was “unacceptable and runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands.”
Federal authorities took over the case and charged Sokiera in January with possessing material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Lieber Smolar told the judge that Sokiera cooperated immediately and pleaded guilty in February.
The bulk of Sokiera’s collection included images and videos of children under 12, including males and females engaged in sex acts with one another.
“These children are obviously hurt in the most serious of ways,” Smolar told the judge.
Though he has no criminal record, Sokiera told investigators he’d been collecting child pornography for about 20 years, Smolar told the judge.
U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab ordered Walker to serve 20 years’ supervised release, the federal equivalent of probation, once he’s out of prison. He won’t be banned from using computers, but that use will be monitored and he won’t be allowed contact with children unless he’s with another adult that has been approved by his probation officer.
Sokiera remains free and will report to prison in a few weeks.