Steve Franklin Garrison got a gigantic break. Sentenced in October to five years in prison for three counts of possession of child pornography, the Chantilly man only had to actually serve five days in jail.
The rest of his sentence was suspended, and Garrison, 54, was placed on supervised probation for three years. Before learning of his fate that day in Fairfax County Circuit Court, he apologized for his actions.
GARRISON acknowledged that he'd put his marriage of 35 years in jeopardy and vowed to the judge, "No matter what I have to do to get my life back on track, I'll do it."
Now, though, it seems as if that train headed for the straight and narrow somehow veered off path.
Fairfax County police have again arrested Garrison and charged him with two counts of possession of child pornography. And this time, he's facing a revocation hearing during which some or all of his previously suspended jail time could be reinstated.
Garrison and his wife have three children and live at 4312 Poplar Branch Drive, in the vicinity of three schools: Greenbriar West Elementary, Rocky Run Middle and Chantilly High. Since January 1998, he was employed by Fairfax County as a master building inspector.
Then he learned to use the Internet. And as his attorney, John T. Graham, explained at Garrison's sentencing, "From ages 50-54, he became conversant in the use of the Internet [to view] both adult and child pornography."
Eventually, authorities shined a light on Garrison's newfound interest. And on Oct. 6, 2005, he was arrested by the Northern Virginia-Washington, D.C., Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. He resigned his job with the county four days later.
Garrison pleaded guilty May 9, 2006 in Circuit Court, before Judge Marcus Williams, returning Oct. 13 to learn his punishment. Graham told the court his client was receiving treatment for his problem from two doctors and noted that he'd never engaged in physical contact with minors.
"He's undergone a complete transformation and been honest and aboveboard with everyone," said Graham. "He's not the type of person to do this kind of thing, and he's never going to repeat it again."
But Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Kyle Manikas was concerned about the seriousness of the charges and troubled by Garrison's behavior. "This wasn't a one-time event," he said. "It was done repeatedly, over a three- to four-year period."
HE THEN asked Williams to sentence Garrison to "some active jail time and a substantial period of probation" so he'd have some time hanging over his head if he ever gets into trouble again." Manikas also recommended that Garrison be ordered into sex-offender treatment requiring periodic polygraph tests.
Williams sentenced Garrison to five years in prison on each of his three charges, running the sentences concurrently. He then suspended all but five days and placed Garrison on supervised probation for three years. The judge also ordered him to receive sex-abuse evaluation and treatment and to continue with the therapy programs he's already begun.
"I'm suspending [most of your sentence] because you have no prior record," Williams told Garrison. "But the court is concerned about the nature of this crime, so that's why the court has ordered the evaluation and treatment to continue."
Fast forward to March 5 of this year — less than five months after his sentencing — and Garrison is back in hot water. Det. Craig R. Paul — with the Child Investigations Unit of the police department's Criminal Investigations Bureau — presented details in a March 7 affidavit for a warrant to search Garrison's home for evidence of child-pornography possession.
Paul wrote that he received information March 5 from Garrison's probation officer. According to the detective: "When Mr. Garrison learned that he was going to have to submit to a court-ordered polygraph as part of his compliance in his sentence, he [allegedly] admitted to his probation officer that he had downloaded a video of child pornography."
The detective stated that Garrison reportedly told his probation officer he'd downloaded it from a computer in his home, around Feb. 20, and that it showed "a 12- to 14-year-old female giving oral sex to an adult male."
Furthermore, wrote Paul, Garrison allegedly admitted searching online for child pornography by using a particular term used by people who are stimulated by seeing sexual activity between adults and children.
Police arrested Garrison Feb. 28, charging him with two counts of possession of child pornography. His revocation hearing is scheduled for this Friday, March 23, in Circuit Court. Until then, he's being held without bond in the Adult Detention Center.
Meanwhile, police searched his Chantilly home March 7 for two hours and seized more than two dozen items, including two computers and associated software and accessories, two cameras, a multitude of VHS tapes, CDs, CD-Roms, an alleged pornographic book and 10 alleged pornographic videotapes.