By Scott Orr
|Estel Richard Simonds|
PRESCOTT - Estel Richard Simonds pleaded guilty to eight counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor on Tuesday in what his attorney called a "very unusual" case.
Simonds, 78, was originally charged with eight counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. His lawyer, Bruce Blumberg, explained to Superior Court Judge Tina Ainley how Simonds, over 40 years ago, ordered pornographic pictures of children "from the back of a magazine," from a source in Germany, and then, as he and his wife "hoarded everything," stored the photos in his Camp Verde garage.
"There were rows of boxes," Blumberg said, noting that, eventually, Simonds' wife became worried about going into the storage area for fear they might fall on her.
In the spring of 2011, when the couple decided to move to Phoenix, Blumberg said, they started selling off and giving away all the things they had accumulated. "People were coming for weeks after weeks to this garage," he said.
Someone bought the box containing the illicit photos and reported it to police.
The buyer, Blumberg said, "indicated he felt Mr. Simonds did not know he had these things."
On Tuesday, Simonds - with his wife in tears in the gallery - pleaded guilty to the eight counts, which each come with a maximum sentence of 7.5 years because they are considered dangerous crimes against children.
"I am prepared to go to trial if necessary," Blumberg said, but added that this is how Simonds wanted to handle the case.
Ainley said that she would likely sentence him to probation, but the plea stipulates that, even if she imposes probation, Simonds will still have to serve a year in the county jail.
He will have to register as a sex offender as well.
Ainley will sentence him on June 3.