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February 6, 2003


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert W. Sweet, United States District Judge


Defendant Stephen Tanasi ("Tanasi") pleaded guilty on May 14, 2002 to receiving and distributing computer files that contained child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(2)(B). For the reasons set forth below, Tanasi's sentence will consist of 9 months in federal custody, to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release, subject to the sentencing hearing now set for February 11, 2003 before this Court. A special assessment fee of $100 is mandatory and will be due immediately.

The Defendant

Tanasi was born on January 26, 1970, in Bristol, CT. Tanasi's family describe him as "hard working and responsible" and "a loving and loyal son." His employer at Quality Coils, Inc., stated that Tanasi has been a loyal employee for more than 12 years and is well regarded by his peers. Tanasi holds the position of tool maker and earns $21.50 hourly. He dropped out of Bristol Central High School during the twelfth grade to seek employment. He later obtained his general equivalency diploma. Tanasi lived at home until he was twenty five years of age.

Tanasi has never married and has no children. For the past year and a half, Tanasi has been involved with Sharon Alff, who moved into Tanasi's residence in November 2001. Ms. Alff, 34, is presently going through a divorce and has two children, ages 13 and 11, who reside at Tanasi's residence with their mother. Tasani and Ms. Alff have discussed the possibility of getting married. They have participated in video conferencing with other adults in which they transmitted and shared images of themselves having sex.

Because the offense involved sexual deviancy, Tanasi was referred for a psychosexual evaluation in order to assess his psychologic functioning and to determine from a clinical perspective whether or not he poses a risk to the community.

Tanasi was seen by William F. Hobson, M.S., a clinical member of the Connecticut Association for Treatment of Sexual Offenders. Mr. Hobson found that there "was no evidence that Mr. Tanasi has engaged in overt, `hands on' sexual contact with minors. He has been involved in at least two relationships with women who have children, and verbalizes a sensitivity to their possible concerns . . ." However, it was beyond the scope of the clinical evaluation to determine Tasani's sexual interest or his intent with respect to engaging in a specific behavior. Mr. Hobson suggested that the administration of an Abel Screen test would assist in determining Tanasi's sexual interest in children.

Tanasi was also evaluated by Dr. Leslie Lothstein, Ph.D. ABPP in January 2002, at the request of his attorney. Intelligence tests described by Dr. Lothstein indicate that Tanasi is functioning in the average range of intelligence. The Abel and Becker Cognition Scale, a psychosexual assessment tool, were within normal limits. Tanasi did not ascribe to any items suggesting he has an interest in actually engaging in adult-child sex.

It was Dr. Lothstein's determination that Tanasi was "collecting thousands of images of adult pornography or anything he could receive because he has a compulsive and sexual addiction to pornography and is easily sexually aroused by anything." Dr. Lothstein found that Tanasi "is a very naive, socially awkward, immature individual with a non-paraphilic sexual disorder: a compulsive addiction to pornography and involvement in nonparaphilic but addictive behavior with his partner." (Paraphilic disorders are a complex of sexual disorders, one of the most common of which is pedophilia). Dr. Lothstein opined that although there was no way to fully determine if Tanasi "is telling the truth about his lack of interest in having sex with children" it was reasonable to conclude that "there is no evidence that Mr. Tanasi is a sexual predator or that he has ever been involved with children sexually or in anything but consensual sex with age appropriate adults." Dr. Lothstein wrote that "it would appear that his general sexual curiosity, hyperarousal to anything sexual and sexual addiction was beyond his control."

The Offense

On July 18, 2001, while in an Internet chatroom named Preteenrapesex Tanasi sent 13 images of child pornography to an undercover officer of the Rockland County Sheriff's Office posing as "nycgirle." Tanasi, using the name "Steve 70" initiated the private chat dialogue with nycgirle and asked if she wanted to trade some pictures. Tanasi sent numerous files to nycgirle that contained images of pre-adolescent individuals engaging in the sexual activity, including fellatio. After Tanasi sent the pictures, nycgirle self-identified as a thirteen year old girl and Tanasi identified as a 31 year old individual.

United States Secret Service agents reviewed the computer images sent to the undercover officer, as did the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). The thirteen computer images sent by Tanasi appear to be of minors engaged in simulated and actual sexual acts.

When confronted by agents Tanasi admitted that he had sent the images from his computer during a chat session, and that he had many other similar images stored in his computer. In a written statement, Tanasi related that "in the past 8 months I have traded hundreds of pictures of underage girls, ...

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