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Feb 25 2012

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CALI: Sierra Madre Police Say Child Porn Convict Not Required to Register as Sex Offender – Canada and “Companions” Connected Again

By J.D. Velasco and Brian Day, Staff Writerspasadenastarnews.com
Posted: 02/24/2012 11:07:00 PM PST

SIERRA MADRE – A man who recently returned to Sierra Madre after being convicted of possessing and smuggling child pornography in Canada will not have to register as a sex offender, police said Friday.

Canadian authorities said Robert Matheson, 67, was convicted in December of possessing and smuggling 2,820 images and 285 videos – many of them depicting underage boys engaged in sex acts with adult men.

Sierra Madre interim police Chief Larry Giannone said the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office told his department that California’s sex-registration requirement doesn’t apply to Matheson because his conviction occurred outside of the United States.

But a former Orange County district attorney who specialized in sex crimes has questioned that interpretation of the law.

Matheson was arrested in October after being questioned by authorities at a Canadian airport. According to prosecutors, Matheson gave vague answers to questions about his travel plans.

A companion, identified as a 28-year-old Los Angeles man, traveled with the porn smuggler to Canada. The age disparity between the two men heightened the suspicions of the border agents.

A search of Matheson’s laptop led to the discovery of the pornography.

Upon his conviction, Matheson was sentenced to 120 days in jail. He was released Wednesday.

He is also under investigation by U.S. officials, though investigators with U.S. Immigration and

Customs Enforcement have been tight-lipped about their probe.

On Thursday, “Mr. Matheson voluntarily came into the police station to advise us that he was back at his residence and simply stated; `There are two sides to every story,”‘ Giannone said.

Matheson, a prominent Sierra Madre resident who was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and assisted with former Mayor Joe Mosca’s 2010 campaign, could not be reached for comment.

Although Matheson checked in with the Sierra Madre police upon his return, Giannone said his department was told by the Los Angeles D.A.’s office that sex registration was not required.

“We check with the District Attorney’s Office that handles these cases,” Giannone said.

Nick Pacilio, a spokesman for the California Attorney General, said the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office would not have responsibility for determining Matheson’s sex-offender status.

“That’s not how the process works,” Pacilio said. “The determination is made by the California Department of Justice.”

Pacilio said that by law, Matheson has five days to register with the California DOJ after his return to the state. He could not comment specifically on Matheson’s case until that time period has passed.

District Attorney’s Office officials were not available for comment.

Michael Fell, a former Orange County deputy district attorney who specialized in sex crimes, said he didn’t believe the California Penal Code makes an exception for convictions outside of the country.

He pointed to Senate Bill 622, which was signed into law in September and requires the state Department of Justice to review out-of-state offenders’ criminal record to determine if they should be registered as a sex offender.

The bill expanded the list of those required to register as a sex offender to anyone convicted of such a crime “in any other court, including any state, federal or military court.”

Pacilio, attorney general spokesman, said the California Department of justice has a procedure in place for looking at sex-crime convictions, even if they occur outside of the country. He said DOJ staff will compare California and Canadian law and decide if they’re “equivalent.”

Fell agreed.

“As long as it has the elements,” Fell said, “maybe it’s not a gray area.”

Staff Writer Brian Charles contributed to this story.

justin.velasco@sgvn.com

626-962-8811, ext. 2718

Read more: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_20042498#ixzz1nRXWFJDx

Permanent link to this article: http://porninthevalley.com/2012/02/25/sierra-madre-police-say-child-porn-convict-not-required-to-register-as-sex-offender-canada-and-companions-too/

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