In the eight child-porn cases that came before her court, former D.C. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson heard horrifying details of “sadomasochistic” torture of young kids — including “infants and toddlers” — yet challenged the disturbing evidence presented by prosecutors and disregarded their prison recommendations to give the lightest possible punishments in each case, according to transcripts of sentencing hearings obtained by the Post.
In some cases, she even apologized to some of the kiddie-porn perverts for having to follow the statutes, which she called “substantially flawed.”
Over and over, the records reveal, Jackson made excuses for the sex fiends’ criminal behavior and cut them slack in defiance of investigators and prosecutors — and sometimes even probation officers serving her court — who argued for tougher sentences because the cases were particularly egregious or the defendants weren’t remorseful.
The fuller record of her orders as a trial judge, detailed here for the first time, undercuts the White House’s and Senate Democrats’ argument that her sentences were within the “normal range” or “mainstream” of child porn cases, as they try to defend the Supreme Court nod against growing allegations she is soft on crime.
Jackson, 51, who tried the cases as an Obama appointee from 2013 to 2021, was nominated earlier this year by President Biden, who pledged during the campaign to put the first “black woman” on the high bench. The Senate will vote on her confirmation next week.
In July 2020, Jackson gave the bare minimum sentence to a defendant convicted of distributing images and videos of infants being sexually abused, and who had boasted of molesting his 13-year-old cousin, even though she knew the defendant refused “to take full responsibility” for his crimes, a transcript reveals. In 2018, Christopher Michael Downs was busted trading child porn in a private online chat room, “Pedos Only,” including images of adult males raping “a prepubescent female child,” according to court records. He posted 33 graphic photos, including an image of a naked female child as young as 2 years old. Downs, then 30, told the group, “I once fooled around with my 13-year-old cousin.” He also uploaded a 10-second video of “a prepubescent female lying in a bathtub and with an adult male inserting his penis into her mouth.”
Jackson herself admitted that the felon was at “risk of reoffending,” the transcript further reveals. But she declined to enhance his prison time based on the amount of porn he distributed, arguing such enhancements were “outdated” and “substantially flawed.” She acknowledged the average sentence nationally “for similarly situated defendants” was 81 months, but she gave him the statutory mandatory-minimum sentence of 60 months, which was short of the nearly six years prosecutors asked for. In addition, Jackson gave him credit for time served starting from when he was first incarcerated in October 2018, so technically she gave him only 38 months, or a little over three years, in the pen. Downs is scheduled for release in December.
By Paul Sperry