WALLA WALLA — A man who photographed underage girls nude decades ago, kept and copied some of the pictures, then emailed three of them to a stranger was sentenced this morning to 10 years in prison.
David N. Polk, 56, will serve an exceptionally long prison term of double the five-year usual maximum for the eight convictions in his child pornography case.
Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Scott Wolfram specifically found that to sentence Polk otherwise would result in some of his crimes going unpunished.
Before the sentence was imposed, Polk adamantly denied committing the offenses, maintaining the victims were adults when he took their pictures.
He read a rambling, disjointed statement for about 20 minutes, disputing testimony presented at his trial this summer, criticizing its fairness and pointing to his past accomplishments.
The founder and primary moderator of the popular, now defunct, Facebook page called “Walla Walla Sweet Onion Burger,” Polk said he was targeted in the police investigation by unethical people who wanted to shut down his access to the Internet.
“I believe you are being used and you are sending an innocent man to prison,” he told Wolfram.
One of the victims, her voice at times trembling with anger, said in court she and others have lost contact with family members because of Polk’s exploitation of them, but she is determined to remain strong. She said in a later interview she was very relieved at Polk’s 10-year sentence, adding, “It’s been a long time coming. He deserves everything he gets.”
Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle said he is glad the case is over.
At the end of a two-day trial July 10, a nine-woman three-man jury found Polk guilty of four counts of second-degree dealing in and four counts of second-degree possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
The 10-year prison terms Wolfram imposed on all eight counts will be served at the same time. Polk will be eligible for one-third off for good behavior.
Wolfram gave Polk credit for the 69 days he’s spent in the County Jail since his convictions and ordered him to pay a total of $3,438 in various court costs and fees.
Polk will have to register as a sex offender after his release from prison.
An occasional freelance photographer, Polk had taken nude photos of four women — who then were not yet 18 — in the 1980s. He amassed a collection of hundreds of such pictures and slides of them and other victims who are unknown or chose not to cooperate with the investigation. He duplicated slides to computer images in November 2011.
Polk eventually got caught because in December of that year he emailed three of the nude images to a local man he just met on Facebook. Police came calling to his College Place home the following June with a search warrant.
One by one, nude photos of the then-underage girls were displayed at Polk’s trial. The four victims told jurors specifics of how they were exploited.
The Union-Bulletin is not naming the women or the man who received the emailed images because they are victims of sex crimes.
Polk’s attorney, Andrea Burkhart, argued unsuccessfully in written memoranda filed in court that such a sentence as Wolfram imposed today is unconstitutionally harsh because it amounts to double jeopardy. She maintained Polk should have faced a standard-range sentence of 15-20 months because some of the multiple offenses of which he was convicted involved the same criminal conduct under state law.
In a presentence investigation report, state Department of Corrections Community Corrections Officer Chris Leyendecker suggested Wolfram consider the exceptionally long 10-year term because of the multiple offenses of which Polk was convicted.
Leyendecker interviewed Polk three times after the convictions and wrote, “(Polk) adamantly denies any involvement in child pornography of any kind.
“He claims the entire community knew what he was doing and members of the law enforcement community assisted him in his work.”
Polk — an unemployed, disabled former nurse with a history of substance abuse problems — maintains that at the time the pictures were taken he was operating a modeling agency, all the photos belong to him and there was no sexual motivation of any kind.
“He claims that both his wife and daughter are ‘outraged’ at the outcome of this trial, and that everybody knows that he did not take nude photos of anybody that was underage,” Leyendecker wrote.
Polk told Leyendecker he was duplicating slides to computer images “because some of the girls wanted copies.”
In Leyendecker’s opinion, Polk has an overinflated sense of ability and intellect, perhaps with a strong dislike or hatred of women, and narcissistic tendencies.
Burkhart said this morning that Polk suffers from Asperger syndrome, which results in difficulties in social interaction.
Terry McConn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8319.