A legal loophole is allowing a Washington state man accused of child sex crimes to view child pornography in jail.
Weldon Marc Gilbert is acting as his own lawyer in the case, and that means he’s entitled to review the evidence.
The evidence in the case includes more than 100 videos seized from Gilbert’s Lake Tapps home after his 2007 arrest. Authorities say some of the footage was shot by Gilbert.
“Make no mistake – I don’t like it,” Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor told KOMO-TV. “But it is not my choice whether to do it or not to do it. There’s no question that I don’t like it. There’s no question that this makes me grind my teeth.”
The materials normally would be contraband at the Pierce County Jail, but restricting Gilbert’s access to the videos could result in a mistrial, the station reported Wednesday.
“We don’t want to do it, but we have to follow the law,” Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist said. “The fix here is to change the law.”
Gilbert worked as a pilot and is accused of using offers of flying lessons, money and alcohol to lure more than a dozen boys to his home, where police say he then molested them.
When Gilbert views his videos in the Tacoma jail, he is with an investigator in a room visible to jail guards, KIRO-TV reported.
Gilbert pleaded guilty in federal court in 2009 to producing child pornography, and received a 25-year sentence. But, The News Tribune reported, the deal was contingent on Gilbert also pleading guilty in state court to sex crimes, with prosecutors recommending a sentence of no more than 17 years, to run concurrently with the federal sentence.
When a judge told Gilbert his state sentence could be as long as life in prison, he withdrew his guilty plea.