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Child Porn Charges: Three Years in Prison

<bt>Before Chantilly resident George Paul Bishop was sentenced Friday to three years in prison for possessing and producing child pornography, the parents of one of his victims testified against him.

Bishop, 46, was convicted in connection with a tape and video he made of a teen-age boy in bondage gear. And the parents testifying in Circuit Court were the ones whose son originally alerted the police to what was going on.

"It was my husband and son who brought this case to Det. Charles," said the mother. "I was made to go into a world that I only saw on TV. I didn't know this kind of depravity existed in suburbia."

The criminal case against Bishop first came to public view in January, when Fairfax County Police Det. Peter Charles, of the Child Services Section, presented details in two affidavits for search warrants. He sought possible evidence in Bishop's home, as well as in the home of Richard Wendall Evans, 66, of Annandale. By the end of that month, on Jan. 28, police arrested both men.

In a Jan. 7 affidavit, Charles stated that illegal activities were allegedly occurring at Bishop's Rockland Village home, at 4156 Pleasant Meadow Court, between July and October 2004. He said he'd obtained his information, Dec. 20, 2004, from a 17-year-old boy — who Charles called "Victim One" — who'd frequented Bishop's home on the lower level of a townhouse. This is the boy whose parents testified Friday in court.

The detective wrote that the boy was a high-school student and, after school, he and other students had gone to Bishop's home numerous times reportedly "to drink alcohol and ingest illegal narcotics."

He stated that the teen called Bishop "Paul" and told police that Paul had, on occasion, "videotaped and photographed the juveniles in his residence. Victim One remembers seeing one of these pictures used as a screen saver on Paul's personal computer."

In the Jan. 19 affidavit requesting to search Evan's home, Charles noted that, among items seized by police, Jan. 7, at Bishop's home were computer hard drives, pictures and videotapes. "On these videotapes are images of naked individuals — one of which appeared to be underage," wrote the detective. "The acts depicted on these videotapes by this juvenile include posing naked and being fondled and dressed in bondage apparel by two adult males."

He stated it was a VHS tape and was "clearly labled 'Paul's'. One of these individuals in the tape is identified as Bishop." Charles wrote that Evans' driver's license photo matched the other adult on that tape.

He also noted that, on Jan. 18, the teen-ager depicted on the tape was positively identified. During an interview with himself and other detectives, wrote Charles, "[This] victim admitted to being naked in the pictures and in the video. [He] remembers Bishop filming him as he was being dressed in bondage apparel."

On Jan. 28, police charged Bishop with six counts of possession of child pornography and two counts of manufacturing child pornography. They charged Evans with two counts of manufacturing child pornography. Later, in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, five of Bishop's possession charges were dropped.

And on May 23, the grand jury indicted Bishop on the remaining possession charge, plus the two manufacturing offenses. Evans was indicted on one manufacturing charge. He pleaded guilty July 6 in Circuit Court and is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 16.

Bishop pleaded guilty to his three charges, June 27, in Circuit Court. At that time, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Julie Mitchell said Bishop became acquainted with the teen he later videotaped, in fall 2004, while providing alcohol and marijuana for him and other teen-agers in his Chantilly home.

"Between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30, 2004, they visited Evans' apartment," she said. "[There], the 17-year-old was photographed in various stages of undress — including in leather bondage gear."

Bishop returned to court Friday, Aug. 19, for sentencing before Judge Leslie Alden. This time, the prosecutor was Tara Mooney; public defender Dawn Butorac represented Bishop.

The mother testifying told the court her son, now 18, was also Bishop's victim. She said he met Bishop in summer 2004, and the Chantilly man insinuated himself into her child's life as a "friend, confidant and pal," driving a wedge between him and his parents.

She said her son went from 160 to 138 pounds in six weeks and his personality changed drastically. "He became more defiant, more aggressive," said the mother. "I didn't like my son's demeanor, attitude and who he was hanging around with. I didn't think it was appropriate for a 46-year-old man to be involved with a 17-year-old boy."

In explaining the impact Bishop's actions had upon her family, she said her son's gone through counseling, her husband had to be hospitalized because of depression and even her 11-year-old has felt the tension in their house.

She said her son and the boy who was videotaped in bondage apparel were good friends at school and would meet at Bishop's house. Devastated about what happened to her son, she said, "I thought that, since I'd talked to him about safe sex and not talking to strangers, it was enough."

Mooney then called the boy's father to the stand and asked him to tell the impact of Bishop's actions on him. "A year of blaming myself for an environment I allowed my son to be a part of," he said sadly. He was so upset when he found out what had been going on, he said, that he was absent from his job for three months and suffered a loss of pay. "And I'm still receiving counseling and medication," he said.

He, too, noticed the change in his son. "He spent nights away from home and would come home disheveled, disoriented and agressive," said the father. "He was an angry person. We sought help subsequent to his stealing a car."

Last August, the father said, he found Bishop's card in his son's wallet, so he called the man. "We had a discussion about how he understands what these boys need and that he understands them better than their parents do," he said. "Bishop's divisive ploy was to get between parents and their kids."

Then, after seeing Bishop at two of his son's swim meets, the father addressed him in person. "I confronted him and told him he had no business being there and I knew what he was doing to my son and I was going to get to the bottom of it," he said. "My son is still in and out of counseling and on a bit of a rollercoaster ride. He graduated from high school; several boys he met at Bishop's did not."

The whole time the parents testified, Butorac objected to their being allowed to speak, at all, since their son wasn't the person on the videotape for which Bishop was convicted. But then Det. Charles took the stand and, when Mooney asked him if there "could have been other charges involving [their son]," he replied, "Yes." After that, Alden denied Butorac's motion to disregard the testimony.

"This is a troubling case," said Mooney. "Look at the pre-sentencing investigation and what the defendant says about his account of what happened. He wants the court to believe the minor was dressed up as a male slave because he wanted to dress that way for Halloween. He says it was consensual and he was just being a nice guy and providing the outfit and environment."

"He denies giving minors drugs and alcohol and takes no responsibility for it," she continued. "And he says making the tape was stupid and a simple mistake. He was 46, and he has prior criminal convictions. He'd be more believable if he didn't have them."

Mooney revealed that, in 1988, Bishop had two felony convictions in California for "oral copulation with a minor," plus an assault conviction in Fairfax County after "he lifted a 12-year-old paperboy's shirt and kissed his stomach."

"This man has a history of sexual behavior with minors and he takes pictures of naked boys for his own gratification," she told the judge. "He's a threat to our community and to our children, and I ask you to punish him appropriately to send a message to the community that this type of behavior will not be accepted."

Butorac said that, just because her client hasn't shown remorse doesn't mean he hasn't accepted responsibility. "Clearly, this shows a bad error in judgment," she said. "I ask you to sentence him to probation." Butorac said Bishop didn't make two different tapes, but made an 8 mm and transferred it to video. "The tape wasn't mass-produced," she said. "It was in a bag in the back of his closet and wasn't for other people to see."

She noted "character letters" his friends had written on his behalf, calling him a "helpful and caring" person. As for the teen-age boys, she said, "He wasn't preying on these individuals — he was trying to be a positive role model in their lives."

Butorac said Bishop only received probation for his prior convictions and, now, he'll have to register every 90 days as a sex offender and people will know his address, and that, alone, would be punishment.

Then Bishop stood and said he regretted the three charges and had pleaded guilty to them. "I am not a predator or a pedophile," he said. "I don't have a proclivity for 17-year-olds. When I had a problem 20 years ago, I resolved it then. I don't feel I'm a threat to the community."

But Alden believed otherwise. She told him that, after considering all the evidence, testimony, letters and the arguments of both attorneys, "I conclude that you really are not taking responsibility for what you did and have a certain level of denial and are a danger to the community."

She then gave him the maximum punishment for each charge, but suspended most of it. On each count of manufacturing child pornography, Alden sentenced Bishop to 10 years in prison, suspending eight years from each sentence and running the two sentences concurrently. She also placed him on eight years probation.

For the child-pornography possession charge, she gave him five years in prison, suspending four years, and running this sentence consecutive to the others. She also placed him on four years probation. That means he has three years to serve — which will actually be 2 1/2 years if he behaves, since inmates only serve 85 percent of their time.

Bishop will be on probation a total of 12 years, after his release, and Alden ordered him to receive sex-offender and mental-health treatment and any other treatment deemed necessary by his probation officer. He must also register as a sex offender and undergo polygraph tests.