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U.S. v. TANASI

March 3, 2004.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, -against- STEPHEN TANASI, Defendant


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT SWEET, Senior District Judge

OPINION

The government has moved to oppose downward departure on the basis of diminished capacity in the case of defendant Stephen Tanasi ("Tanasi"). For the reasons set forth below, the government's motion is denied.

 Prior Proceedings

  Tanasi pled guilty on May 14, 2002 to receiving and distributing computer files that contained child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252 (a)(2)(B). Under his plea agreement, Tanasi's adjusted offense level was set to 20 and the Sentencing Guidelines range to 33 to 41 months' imprisonment. The parties also agreed to pursue neither upward nor downward departure.

  Tanasi's sentencing opinion was issued on February 11, 2003. United States v. Tanasi, No. 02 Cr. 96, 2003 WL 328303 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 11, 2003) (Tanasi I),*fn1 The opinion indicated that Tanasi would be sentenced to 9 months' imprisonment, followed by a three — year term of supervisory release. Id. at *1. Downward departure was based on Tanasi' a psychological evaluations by William F. Hobson ("Dr. Hobson"), M.S., a clinical member of the Connecticut Association for the Treatment of Sexual Offenders, and Page 2 Dr. Leslie Lothstein ("Dr. Lothstein"), PhD., a member of the American Board of Professional Psychology. Dr. Hobson's evaluation of Tanasi was court — ordered, while Dr. Lothstein evaluated Tanasi at the request of his attorney. Dr. Hobson prepared a report on Tanasi on December 5, 2001, and Dr. Lothstein prepared a report on April 11, 2002.

  Tanasi's sentencing was adjourned to give the government an opportunity to review Dr. Hobson's and Dr. Lothstein's reports and to determine whether to oppose departure. The government retained Dr. Lawrence M. Siegel ("Dr. Siegel"), M.D., who performed an evaluation of Tanasi on May 12, 2003. Dr. Siegel submitted his report on October 17, 2003, and Tanasi submitted a response to Siegel's report on November 25, 2003 ("Tanasi Resp.").

  On February 1, 2004, the government submitted its opposition to downward departure for Tanasi, and it was received on February 3, 2004.

  Sentencing is currently scheduled for March 19, 2004.

 Psychological Evaluations

  Dr. Hobson found that there "is 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 Page 3 have children, and verbalizes a sensitivity to their possible concerns . . ." He recommended that Tanasi "be prohibited from the use of pornography of any type; even though adult pornography is not technically illegal, I would be concerned about it serving as a trigger for him to become involved with other types of sexually — explicit materials."

  Dr. Lothstein determined 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." "Mr. Tanasi's response to the Abel and Becker Cognition Scale were within normal limits," and "[h]e did not ascribe to any items suggesting that he has an interest in actually engaging in adult — child sex." Rather, "it would appear that [Tanasi's] general sexual curiosity, hyperarousal to anything sexual and sexual addiction was beyond his control."

  According to Dr. Lothstein, 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." He diagnosed Tanasi as "a very naive, socially awkward, immature individual with a non — paraphilic sexual disorder: a compulsive addiction to pornography and involvement in non — paraphilic but Page 4 addictive behavior with his partner.*fn2 His daily life has been spent thinking, fantasizing, and daydreaming about sexual encounters." Dr. Lothstein stressed that Tanasi's "judgment and insight" are "impaired and poor," and that he "did not fully appreciate the wrongfulness of his behavior until he was arrested," and expressed the belief that treatment "could lead to the cessation of his addiction."

  Dr. Siegel reported that Tanasi's sexual interests "were primarily adolescent and adult females . . . within the normal range for adult males." He thus concluded that "[e]ven if one assumes [Tanasi] had some obsession or compulsion involving adult pornography, his `need' ...


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