Man who sex­u­ally as­saulted ba­bies gets 60 years

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - DAVE HUGHES

FORT SMITH — A fed­eral judge sen­tenced a lo­cal Fort Smith man to 60 years in prison Wed­nes­day for sex­u­ally as­sault­ing ba­bies and video record­ing the at­tacks, call­ing the child pornog­ra­phy case “the worst of the worst.”

Western Arkansas Chief U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes III sen­tenced James Spi­otto to 30 years in prison on each of two counts, or­der­ing the sen­tences to run con­sec­u­tively.

“The vic­tim­iza­tion of the chil­dren is on the ex­treme end of any crim­i­nal con­duct this court has ever seen,” Holmes said dur­ing Spi­otto’s sen­tenc­ing hear­ing.

Spi­otto, 29, was charged in March 2016 with five counts of a seven-count in­dict­ment. In May 2016, he pleaded guilty to one count of con­spir­acy to pro­duce child pornog­ra­phy and one count of pro­duc­tion of child pornog­ra­phy.

Spi­otto was charged in the in­dict­ment with Amelia Spi­otto, who is his aunt and girl­friend. In court Wed­nes­day, Spi­otto said their re­la­tion­ship was based on drugs and sex­ual fan­tasy that needed in­creas­ingly de­praved acts to main­tain their sex­ual high. That need led them to us­ing ba­bies, a 3-month-old boy and an 11-month-old girl, whom Amelia Spi­otto was baby-sit­ting for friends.

The Spi­ot­tos’ ac­tiv­i­ties were un­cov­ered in late 2015 when on­line in­ves­ti­ga­tors found that sus­pected child pornog­ra­phy was be­ing down­loaded onto a com­puter at the Spi­ot­tos’ apart­ment in Fort Smith, a fed­eral af­fi­davit said.

While ex­e­cut­ing a fed­eral search war­rant in Fe­bru­ary 2016, of­fi­cers found a win­dow open in the apart­ment. While look­ing out­side, they saw a com­puter hard drive ly­ing on the ground. It con­tained videos of the as­saults.

Court records showed that Amelia Spi­otto had per­formed oral sex on the boy while us­ing her phone to record the as­sault. She also ex­changed text mes­sages with James Spi­otto, who gave her en­cour­age­ment dur­ing the as­sault.

James and Amelia Spi­otto as­saulted the girl sep­a­rately, ac­cord­ing to court records. As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Dustin Roberts said in court Wed­nes­day that James Spi­otto hung the girl up­side down while he com­mit­ted sex acts on her, spit in her face and called her a slut. His treat­ment of the girl amounted to tor­ture, Roberts said.

Court records showed that James Spi­otto texted Amelia Spi­otto say­ing they could watch the video of the as­sault while they had sex.

“This is with­out a doubt the worst of the worst and is de­serv­ing of a 60-year sen­tence,” Roberts told Holmes.

James Spi­otto’s at­tor­ney, James Pierce, asked that his client be sen­tenced to 20 years in prison and that dur­ing that time he par­tic­i­pate in pro­grams to re­ha­bil­i­tate him.

“Men­tal health and sex of­fender treat­ment can re­form him as well dur­ing a 240-month in­car­cer­a­tion as it could dur­ing a 720-month in­car­cer­a­tion,” Pierce wrote in a sen­tenc­ing mem­o­ran­dum.

Pierce asked Holmes to con­sider how his client came to com­mit the crimes. He said James Spi­otto was a vic­tim of sex­ual abuse by fam­ily mem­bers while grow­ing up.

“The de­fen­dant never had a chance,” Pierce said.

In his state­ment be­fore be­ing sen­tenced, James Spi­otto said he suf­fered from ad­dic­tion to In­ter­net child pornog­ra­phy and the psy­cho­log­i­cal ef­fects of his child­hood abuse.

He said he felt shame for the pain he caused the vic­tims, their par­ents and his two chil­dren to whom he said he tried to be a good fa­ther.

“I am filled with shame and re­gret and will be for the rest of my life,” he said.

In Fe­bru­ary, Amelia Spi­otto pleaded guilty to two counts from the in­dict­ment, sex­ual ex­ploita­tion of a mi­nor for pro­duc­tion of child pornog­ra­phy. Her sen­tenc­ing hear­ing is sched­uled for Aug. 23 be­fore Holmes.

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