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Man gets probation in child porn case
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Forsyth County News

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By: Jim Dean

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A software salesman convicted last month of knowingly possessing images of child pornography on his home computers has been sentenced to 10 years of probation.

Visiting retired Judge Howard Cook of Gwinnett County acknowledged Wednesday that Erik Lottes’ sentence deviates from the norm.

Cook said that in making his decision, he took into account the fact that Lottes is the sole provider for his family and his twin teenage sons require extensive medical treatment for an immunodeficiency disease.

The sentence includes the provision that Lottes, 45, will serve six to 12 months in a probation detention facility before being released on probation.

He is to remain at the Forsyth County Detention Center for up to 18 months until he is accepted into a probation facility.

A Forsyth County Superior Court jury in January found Lottes guilty of six counts of sexual exploitation of children following a weeklong trial.

Lottes’ attorney, Romin Alavi, said he will review appeal options with his client.

"He has always been able to provide for his family and this will certainly impact that," Alavi said. "I think that the law hasn’t exactly caught up with technology."

Alavi added that someone who owns a computer may not be aware of everything that’s on it.

Lottes testified during the trial that he first became aware there was suspected child pornography in his house in January 2009, when authorities showed up looking for it.

According to testimony, suspected images of child pornography were found on two computers, kept in a room next to the laundry room, that both of his sons used to download music, videos and adult pornography.

Lottes testified that he initially confessed to possessing the images for fear his sons would be arrested.

During Lottes’ sentencing hearing Wednesday morning, Forsyth County Assistant District Attorney Michael Mahoney said the mandatory minimum sentence for each count is 20 years, with five to serve. He asked for an eight-year prison sentence.

Mahoney argued that Lottes should’ve taken his family’s needs into consideration before downloading and viewing child pornography.

"There are safety nets in this society," Mahoney said. "They’ll get the treatment they need."

Witnesses who testified about Lottes’ character described him as a family man and said they did not think he was a threat to children.

Clinical psychologist Barry Klein testified that he evaluated and began treating Lottes in 2009. He said he referred Lottes to another psychologist who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of sexual deviants.

"Dr. [James] Stark told me equivocally that Mr. Lottes is not a pedophile," said Klein, adding that he agrees with Stark and does not think Lottes is at risk of harming anyone.

"I have the highest regard for Mr. Lottes," Klein said. "I think he is an outstanding individual."

Two of Lottes’ neighbors also testified on his behalf, saying they had no concerns about him being around their own children.

Witnesses also said Lottes’ wife does not work in order to take care of their sons.