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Spokane man with traumatic brain injuries sentenced to 7 years on second child pornography charge

June 21, 2022 Updated Tue., June 21, 2022 at 7:23 p.m.

The Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse in Spokane.  (JESSE TINSLEY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
The Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse in Spokane. (JESSE TINSLEY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

A 47-year-old Spokane man who told a federal judge a series of brain injuries contributed to his possession of child pornography was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in prison.

Brian D. Knight pleaded guilty in November to a single criminal count of possession of child pornography. It is his second conviction on a child pornography possession charge, after he was found guilty in Grays Harbor County and sentenced to 14 months in 2011. He was acquitted of a separate child rape charge.

Knight, citing multiple brain injuries including from a stroke suffered at the age of 4, asked U.S. District Court Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson for a three-year sentence. Prosecutors, citing the previous conviction and the nature of the content found on his computer by the FBI, sought the seven-year sentence.

“This rises to a higher level,” Peterson said, agreeing with Assistant U.S. Attorney David Herzog and citing “a serious concern for me about protecting the public from further crimes.”

Federal agents recovered the equivalent of more than 600 images of explicit content involving minors from Knight’s computer in November 2019, according to court records. Images and written content depicted the rape of children, including incest, according to court records.

Among the items discovered by the FBI were an underage sex consent form, Peterson said.

Prosecutors also argued Peterson should consider an organization and website Knight created, called “Fish4Kids,” that claimed to be providing aquariums for children with autism to help deal with their condition. No aquariums were ever given out, and Herzog said its existence was “deeply troubling.”

Andrea George, Knight’s attorney, said it was an attempt to help others through a method that had helped Knight with his anxiety, and there was “no evidence” it had been used to contact families or children.

Knight, through a statement read to Peterson by his attorney, said he’d been exposed to such content while working for a computer company in Spokane out of high school. He had discovered similar content hidden on computers.

“I ended up having to take the rest of the week off because I was so uneased,” George read from the statement.

Peterson asked Knight if he’d written the statement himself, and he said he had. He described the need to look at such images as like being unable to look away from a car crash.

Knight said he hadn’t been able to afford continued treatment after release from custody, and found someone online who reintroduced him to child pornography.

“There are other opportunities to get counseling,” Peterson told him.

U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington Vanessa Waldref noted Knight’s previous conviction in a statement after sentencing.

“All children should be safe from sexual predators, particularly those who have offended before,” Waldref said in the statement. “Protecting children from harm, especially online exploitation, remains a priority of my office and is critical to building a safe and strong Eastern Washington community.”

Peterson wished Knight luck after sentencing, ruling that he could surrender on his own to serve the prison term, after complying with the terms of his electronic home monitoring since his arrest in June 2020. She ordered he receive in-custody sex offender treatment, and remain on federal supervision 10 years after his release from prison.

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