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Wahpeton man receives more than 17 years in prison on child pornography charges

A federal judge Thursday sentenced a Wahpeton, N.D., man to 17½ years in prison on charges relating to having thousands of images of child pornography on his computer.

U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson said in sentencing Jonathan A. Stahl that he took into consideration Stahl's guilty pleas to two charges and the fact that a jury would not have to look at disturbing images of young children being sexually abused.

"We cause post-traumatic stress in jurors. You can't unsee these things," Erickson said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl had recommended 20 years, the maximum under guidelines.

She called the images involved, including videos of children as young as 1, "horrific.''

Defense attorney Chris Lancaster had suggested 12 years, given Stahl's cooperation with the investigation and his willingness to seek treatment.

Erickson said Stahl posed a danger, but said it wouldn't be good for the system to give the maximum to someone who pleaded guilty because defendants would figure there is no benefit in doing so.