Ex-judge pleads guilty in child porn case

John P. Junke Sr. will be held in the Walla Walla County Jail pending sentencing.

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WALLA WALLA — A former local District Court judge has pleaded guilty to possessing Internet child pornography on personal computer devices late last summer.

John P. Junke Sr. entered guilty pleas Tuesday in Walla Walla County Superior Court to two counts of first-degree and four counts of second-degree possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, as charged.

The Department of Corrections will prepare a presentence investigation. Visiting Superior Court Judge David Frazier from Whitman County likely will pronounce the sentence later this month.

Meanwhile, Junke, 70, of 603 W. Alder St., is incarcerated in the County Jail.

Junke is acting as his own attorney and Frazier asked him several times at Tuesday’s hearing if he wanted to consult another lawyer.

“I’m not here for a pity party,” Junke said. “I understand the consequences. I want to proceed.”

He said it always was his intention to plead guilty and seek treatment, although “it’s more difficult to go through that process.”

With moments of tears welling and voice cracking, Junke formally and publicly admitted he possessed the child pornography on his computer devices. Illegal images were detected by a technician after Junke took his computer tower to an area shop for repair on Sept. 9.

The state’s standard-range punishment for the crimes is about 6½ to 8½ years in prison.

But in a plea agreement, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Golden is recommending Junke be sentenced under a sex-offender alternative if he is found in an evaluation to be amenable to treatment.

That alternative allows for a County Jail term of up to a year and a requirement that a defendant complete three years of outpatient treatment at his or her expense.

If Junke were to violate any conditions, he would go to prison.

But Frazier is not bound by Golden’s alternative-sentence recommendation and could decide to sentence Junke directly to prison.

In any event, Junke will have to register as a sex offender for 15 years.

He confessed to law enforcement from the beginning of the investigation that he had a long battle with viewing pornography that spiraled out of control.

Walla Walla police obtained a search warrant for his residence Sept. 13 and, with his cooperation, also located a laptop computer and an external storage hard drive.

Later examination of the confiscated devices revealed 35 images of child pornography, including two that each depict a preteen girl having sexual relations with a male.

An ordained minister as well as an attorney, Junke came to Walla Walla to join a law firm in 1979. He served as the elected Walla Walla County District Court judge from 1991 through 1994 when he was defeated for re-election. He then started a private practice, including acting as a public defender.

In 2006, he voluntarily resigned from the Washington State Bar Association in lieu of disbarment after having an unethical, yearlong romantic relationship with a woman client starting in March 2004.

He was fired in September from his job as director of ticket sales and service for the Walla Walla Sweets after he told the organization of the child-pornography investigation. He said in court Tuesday he is receiving unemployment and Social Security benefits.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

Comments

peaches 2 months, 1 week ago

receiving unemployment??? while incarcerated?? that's unbelieveable!!

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