A Montoursville college student will be spending at least three years in state prison for possessing child pornography.
Brandon Klopp, 21, pleaded guilty in November to charges that he had four videos and 178 picture files of prepubescent girls engaging in explicit acts saved to his home computer.
State police seized the evidence in November 2010 and charged Klopp in April of last year.
A report by the state sexual offenders assessment board noted that Klopp began downloading child pornography over the file-sharing service Limewire when he was about 16 years old and found that there was no evidence he ever attempted to meet children.
"(The report) says that despite social and moral taboos, his condition overrode his ability to use his own volition - essentially he couldn't apply the brakes," said Judge Marc Lovecchio at Klopp's sentencing hearing Thursday.
The arresting state trooper and the magisterial district judge who oversaw Klopp's case were in favor of a probationary sentence, Lovecchio said.
"The (district attorney) decided to pull the plea agreement and offer the four to eight years and, if he didn't accept it, refer it to federal courts for processing," Lovecchio said. "The young man could be looking at a far greater sentence (in federal court). If I concluded this wasn't fair, that could put you in a position of getting a more unfair sentence.
"The commonwealth through the Legislature has given authority (to prosecutors) that, I guess, reflects the will of the people ... and put in mandatory penalties in an effort to equalize sentences and make sure judges aren't easy on crime. In this particular case, the DA has decided the sentence. I don't know if I've ever felt so hopeless.
"I have a letter that says it doesn't make any sense to send him to state prison for this when he did this as a child," Lovecchio said. "I have another that says (the sentence) should be a judge's decision. I'm sure most judges and myself would agree with you.
"I don't believe sentencing you to state prison will deter other 16-year-old boys from doing the same thing. When you go to prison, don't let it change the person you obviously are."
"Every time I see a mother with her child, I feel a huge sense of regret and shame," Klopp told the court. "They probably want me to be locked up for life. I don't think I'm that person. I feel like a waste to society. I don't want to be a prisoner living off taxpayer money. I'm not a violent person and don't want to become one having to defend myself."
"I know this crime demands punishment," Klopp's mother told the court. "I want the court to consider he'll already be starting life with a criminal record, the fines and registering with Megan's Law, and consider probation."
"Even if I thought (the sentence) was too severe, my hands are tied," Lovecchio said. "That doesn't change the severity of the crime. These are real people, young ladies, young boys whose lives will never be the same. There should be some appropriate penalty."
"I didn't think the preliminary agreement was appropriate," said District Attorney Eric Linhardt. "I believed he deserved the three to six years in state prison."