The Status of Mr. Rothenberg's Case
Mr. Rothenberg is serving a 25-year sentence for using the internet to entice a child and for possessing child pornography. No child was ever in his presence. Every psychologist who tested him found he was not a pedophile. It is quite simple. Mr. Rothenberg (a dedicated gay man who has never had a sexual relationship with a female) was on the internet, meeting men, who claimed to be engaging in sex with their children. Rothenberg possessed a small amount of child pornography which comprised the second count, to make him appear to be authentic to the men he met online. They discussed having sex with children online. In only one case – the case leading to Rothenberg’s arrest – did he meet the adult with whom he was chatting. When they met, Rothenberg told the undercover officer, before he was exposed as law enforcement, that he did not think he would engage in sex with the child.
A grand jury in the Southern District of Florida issued a two count indictment naming only Mr. Rothenberg, on May 22, 2008. Count One charged that from May 12 to May 13, 2008, Mr. Rothenberg used a facility of interstate commerce, that is, an internet service, at attempt to entice or persuade a minor to engage in sexual activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §2422(b). Count Two charged that, on the same dates, he knowingly possessed child pornography which had been transported in interstate commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §2252(a)(4)(B). 2 days – 25 years. Mr. Rothenberg was never offered bail at any time.
On August 25, 2008, with no written plea agreement, Mr. Rothenberg offered a guilty plea to both counts of the indictment, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank J. Lynch. There was a stipulated and signed factual basis for the plea filed on the record, in which Mr. Rothenberg fully accepted responsibility, as he did from the moment he was arrested. Judge Lynch issued a Report on that same date, recommending that the plea be accepted; neither party filed objections. Hon. Donald L. Graham, U.S.D.J., issued an Order dated September 4, 2008, adopting and approving the Report and Recommendation “in its entirety,” and formally accepting the plea.
The Pre-Sentence Investigation Report computed the guidelines imprisonment range of 324-405 months (27 – nearly 34 years), at offense level 40. The defense litigated and preserved objections to several upward adjustments, on which the district court ruled adversely. Following two days of sentencing hearings, including reports and testimony from psychiatric experts, sentence was imposed on December 10, 2008. Judge Graham imposed a sentence of 300 months (25 years) imprisonment, to be followed by a life term of supervised release, a $25,000 fine, and $200 in special assessments. The judgment was signed on December 17, 2008; it was filed and entered on the docket on December 19, 2008 Mr. Rothenberg, through new counsel, filed a direct appeal, with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the judgment. A petition for rehearing was filed, which was denied August 24, 2010. Rothenberg, through current counsel, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, which was denied without a hearing. Rothenberg was prepared to present a nationally known internet addiction expert at an evidentiary hearing for the habeas corpus petition, psychologist Dr. David Greenfield, who interviewed and tested Rothenberg post sentencing at his federal prison in Seagoville, Texas. Dr. Greenfield wrote extensive reports, conducted thorough testing far beyond what was done pre-sentence, but nobody was interested in hearing the results of Dr. Greenfield’s expansive studies.
Mr. Rothenberg has been incarcerated since the date of his arrest, May 22, 2008, and is presently serving the sentence imposed in this case at FCI Seagoville Texas.