Terry Lamphier pleads no contest to misdemeanor ‘obscene matter’ charge
Former Nevada County supervisor Terry Lamphier, who was facing three misdemeanor counts of having or possessing digital obscene images of a person younger than 18, has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count that he — as an elected official — knowingly used a state-owned or state-leased computer to access, view, download, or otherwise obtain obscene matter.
The criminal investigation against Lamphier began in 2014, right before the election in which he was running for a seat on the Grass Valley City Council, after investigators reportedly found images of “very young girls” on his workplace computer. Lamphier — who said he did not knowingly click on, visit or download any inappropriate material from child porn sites — won a seat on the council in November 2014, but resigned shortly after he was sworn in.
Lamphier’s trial had been set to start May 24 in Nevada County Superior Court. He had been facing a maximum sentence of one year in jail on each count, and could have been required to register as a sex offender for 10 years.
The trial was originally set to begin in August 2015, but Lamphier was granted several postponements so a forensic expert could analyze his computers.
According to Lamphier’s attorney, Stephen Munkelt, the expert reviewed the prosecution report on the material contained on the hard drives and felt there was no evidence that Lamphier knowingly possessed child porn.
Lamphier’s plea agreement came after he turned down two earlier offers from the Nevada County District Attorney’s office, for knowingly possessing child porn — which would have required registration as a sex offender — and for lewd conduct in public. Munkelt had countered with an offer of a plea to misuse of county property by a local official.
Lamphier’s plea could have netted him six months, but the agreement that was reached included no jail time and no sex offense registration.
Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Ow asked for two years probation, and search and seizure terms that included electronics.
But Munkelt noted that Lamphier is retired from public office and has had no internet connection at his home for “quite some time.”
“Given the analysis of the digital evidence that was obtained in this case by the people, which was prepared by my defense expert, I believe that if the evidence had been thoroughly understood at the outset, the original charges would never have been brought,” Munkelt said.
Ow took exception, saying, “The people were prepared to go to trial on the charges … and we thought we had a reasonable likelihood of conviction. All that said, we are satisfied with the resolution.”
Superior Court Judge Linda Sloven sentenced Lamphier to one year probation and declined to impose search and seizure terms on any electronic devices.
After the hearing, Munkelt said the dismissal of the original charges showed there was “no evidence to support the charge that Terry Lamphier had ever looked for, or possessed, child pornography.
“It’s unfortunate that law enforcement chose to publicize this case long before their investigation was complete,” Munkelt added.
“This has come at a great cost to me,” Lamphier said of his criminal prosecution. “I lost my ability to continue serving my community.”
Lamphier did not rule out running for public office in the future, however, and added, “The justice system has validated my original claim. I was not guilty of what I was charged with.”
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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