Quincy man gets probation, county jail time for child porn - Quincy Herald-Whig | Illinois & Missouri News, Sports

Earl Wierschem Jr. gets probation, county jail time for child porn charge arising from Internet ruse

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Earl Wierschem Jr. Earl Wierschem Jr.

By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

An Adams County judge reluctantly went along with a plea agreement Thursday that gave probation to a Quincy man arrested on a child pornography charge.

Judge William Mays sentenced Earl Wierschem Jr., 46, to 30 months' probation as part of a plea agreement that Wierschem agreed to when he pleaded guilty to an amended felony charge in December. Originally charged with a Class 1 felony of child pornography, Wierschem pleaded down to a Class 4 charge of indecent solicitation of a child.

However, Mays sentenced Wierschem to 364 days in the Adams County Jail.  Mays ordered Wierschem to serve 20 consecutive weekends in jail, with the rest of the sentence stayed pending review.

"This case is a little different," Mays said during Wierschem's sentencing. "I looked at the PSI (pre-sentence investigation) about a week ago, which is something I don't normally do. I read all of the PSIs, but not that far in advance. This is the kind of case that made me wake up in the middle of the night because it bothered me."

Wierschem was arrested in November 2011 after an investigation that started in 2008 in California. Assistant State's Attorney Anita Rodriguez said Wierschem set up an Internet alias, portraying a 16-year-old from Illinois named Rick Wayne. Rodriguez said Wierschem used the alias on a MySpace account as well as on Yahoo Messenger. From 2007 to 2008, Rodriguez said, Wierschem carried on a conversation with a teenage girl from Milipatis, Calif. Wierschem asked the girl to send him nude photos of herself and he would do the same, Rodriguez said. The girl sent him five nude photos of herself.

Wierschem told the girl he wanted to take her virginity and perform oral sex on her. The girl's mother eventually found the emails and contact the Milipatis Police Department.

Wierschem used two email accounts to communicate with the victim. He was arrested by Quincy police on Nov. 22, 2011.

A computer was seized at Wierschem's residence in the 600 block of South 21st. Communication between Wierschem and the victim, Rodriguez said, was found on the computer in the residence, as well as communication between Wierschem and other underage girls. Rodriguez said Wierschem used a random photo that he found on the Internet to use as the profile photo on his MySpace page.

Mays said it was the first time he has presided over this kind of case.

"The Internet is a wonderful tool and can give you a lot of things," Mays said. "And the Internet is something that can bring out the worst in people, which is what we have in this case here."

Rodriguez asked Mays to include time Wierschem has served the Adams County Jail as part of the sentence. The sides already had agreed that Wierschem would serve no more than 60 days of home confinement as part of the plea agreement. Rodriguez had asked Mays to place Wierschem in jail for 364 days.

Rodriguez said Wierschem exhibited "a very creepy type of behavior."

"For a parent of a teenager or preteen, he is a parent's worst nightmare," Rodriguez said.

Wierschem's attorney, Dennis Woodworth, asked that Mays limit his client's sentence to probation and home confinement. Woodworth said Wierschem was considered a "low to moderate" risk to offend again. He said Wierschem has been attending regular counseling sessions, volunteers at a food pantry and was part of a mission trip to Arizona.

"He has been doing what he can to atone for it," Woodworth said.

Wierschem, sporting a shaved head and a goatee and wearing a gray polo shirt and jeans, read a short statement before Mays' sentencing. He apologized for his actions, saying he knew what he did was wrong.

Mays said he had to add some jail time to Wierschem's sentence. He said not doing so would have sent the wrong message to others who might think about doing the same thing Wierschem did. Wierschem will start serving his 20 straight weekends in jail next weekend. He is to report to the Adams County Jail by 6 p.m. Jan. 18. He will be released at 6 p.m. Jan. 20.

Once he has served all the weekend jail time, Wierschem will be subject to 60 days of home confinement, wearing an electronic monitoring device, and allowed out only to attend counseling sessions and church.

Wierschem must register as a sex offender and go through sex offender counseling. He is not allowed to have any contact with minors under age 18, and he cannot access the Internet. He was also fined a total of $3,772.

State's Attorney Jon Barnard said several factors played into amending the charge against Wierschem. The main problem was the distance the victim would have had to travel to testify, he said. Barnard said his office has been in contact with the victim's family and the family gave its blessing to the amended charge.

Wierschem has been free on bond since posting 10 percent of a $4,500 bail Nov. 28, 2011.

 

-- dobrien@whig.com/221-3370

 

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