Former cop convicted of porn wins new trial in federal court

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 28, 2000

JACKSON A former Vicksburg police officer sentenced to 3 1/2 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography has won a new trial.

The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Monday overturned the conviction of Bart Henriques, a seven-year veteran of the force.

U.S. District Judge David Bramlette sentenced Henriques on Nov. 4, 1999, following his conviction at a trial where investigators said they found a collection of pornography on a computer at his apartment.

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Authorities claimed he obtained the pornography from the Internet, which violates commerce laws. They discovered the images when they found a 15-year-old runaway at the apartment Feb. 23, 1998.

The girl testified that Henriques showed nude pictures to her and another girl and boy at his apartment.

The Appeals Court, in its written opinion, said evidence proved pornographic images were stored on the computer and since Henriques was the only one living at the apartment, the court wrote, it is fair to conclude he put the pictures on the hard drive.

The judges, however, said the government never established “whether the images came from a Website, were downloaded from a floppy disk or came from some other source, such as another hard drive.”

The girl’s testimony linking one of the photos to an image she allegedly saw Henriques view on the Internet, the Appeals Court said, was not enough to prove the former officer broke interstate commerce laws.

“The government relied on (the girl’s) testimony to prove a connection between the images and the Internet,” the judges wrote.

“Although (her) testimony connects one image to the Internet, her testimony cannot be used to infer that the other two images, upon which Henriques’ conviction is based, were also obtained from the Internet.”

It is illegal to send child pornography through the mail, shipping or computers.

Henriques told Bramlette last year that he was innocent.

The sentence required Henriques, during his three years of probation supervision after prison, not to have a child under age 18 in his home without another adult present.

Bramlette also ordered Henriques to complete mental health and sexual abuse treatment programs and ordered him not to patronize nude dance clubs or any other business that promotes pornography.

Henriques had been hired as a Vicksburg police officer in 1992 and was suspended from his job shortly after the charges were filed against him in February 1998. He was removed from the force a few months later.