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L.A. Deputy City Atty. Faces Child Porn Charges, Still Licensed

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By William Peacock, Esq. on September 08, 2014 1:08 PM

Deputy City Attorney Christopher Richard Garcia, 57, was charged with possession, distribution, and other child pornography-related charges on Thursday, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Though he allegedly transmitted some of the material last April, and though his home was raided in November, he is still receiving a paycheck and is licensed to practice law. Plus, the California bar's website still states that he has no history of disciplinary actions.

That may change soon, but should it have changed sooner?

A Raid, a Search, Alleged Sales

Authorities raided Garcia's home in San Pedro, California, last November, seizing computers and other electronic evidence.

A forensic search turned up evidence of child exploitation. The raid took place a few months after Garcia allegedly sent some of the material, and according to court records, the material was found on his computer in the subsequent search.

Prosecutors have charged Garcia with sending or bringing obscene material into the state for sale and possession of material depicting minors engaged in sexual conduct, reports the Times.

An Administrative Suspension, a Clean Record

What was the response of his employer, the City of Los Angeles? Spokesman Rob Wilcox told the Times that the office was aware of Garcia's arrest. "When our office became aware of these allegations 10 months ago, Mr. Garcia was immediately placed on administrative leave, where he remains today," Wilcox said. "We cannot comment further on this ongoing criminal matter."

Of course, administrative leave almost certainly means paid leave. And the state bar's website still gives him the "all clear."

Innocent Until Proven Guilty, Obviously

Every news outlet that has covered the story has pointed out that his bar profile remains unblemished. While many of us had the gut reaction of, "Wow. It's that difficult to get disbarred?," the truth is, Garcia is like every other criminal defendant: innocent until proven guilty.

Though it is rare, there are cases where people are arrested for distributing or possessing child pornography and turn out to be innocent. The story of Chris "Birdman" Andersen comes to mind -- an NBA player, whose home was raided, was eventually cleared of charges after it turned out that the entire thing was an odd hoax involving a Canadian woman. Nonetheless, he lost a year of his career and fans still, to this day, think of him as the "child porn guy."

So, while nobody wants an attorney who is facing child porn charges to represent them, and most of us would agree that someone convicted of such charges should be getting a city paycheck, or should be licensed, right now, the key word is alleged, just as it should be with any defendant, facing any charges.

What's the alternative: a notation on the bar's website that he allegedly did something? If he's cleared of the charges, his career is basically ruined anyway -- try Googling his name.

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