The Petition will be sent to the following:
President Trump, Vice President Pence, Chief Justice John Roberts, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and acting US Attorney General Dana Boente.
Stanley G. Rothenberg
We, the undersigned, ask the Bureau of Prisons to request Compassionate Release on the following grounds:
First, it is fundamentally unfair to sentence a 64-year-old man to a life sentence in federal prison for talking dirty on the Internet.
Second, the egregious state of medical care provided in prisons leads to suffering far out of proportion to the sentence.
Third, there is overwhelming evidence that Mr. Rothenberg is not a danger to society and that he never actually intended to engage in sexual conduct with a child.
Mr. Rothenberg has been an openly-gay man his entire life. At age 64, he was disabled by chronic back problems and chronic life-long anxiety, as well as a long-term dependence on prescription benzodiazepine drugs.
After losing his life partner to AIDS, Mr. Rothenberg turned to Internet sex chat rooms for entertainment. He engaged in a number of conversations with many people in the chat rooms, including some as “private messages.” It was in the AOL Family Luv chat room that he encountered a police officer who posed as a father who “shared” his handicapped eleven-year-old daughter with “friends.”
There was no child. Mr. Rothenberg has never had — and has never been charged with — any actual sexual contact with a minor.
However, Mr. Rothenberg was in possession of child pornography, which he disclosed to police officers after his arrest and, in fact, told them where to locate the thumb drive holding the pictures. He had that in his possession in order to prove his bona fides. While some might doubt that claim, the very nature of the material on the thumb drive proves it. The pictures were of a wide range of ages, and of both male and female children. Anyone experienced with true pedophiles knows that they normally gravitate to specific genders and ages. This was clearly a collection meant to impress others rather than for personal use.
The law, however, does not make that distinction, and Mr. Rothenberg accepts that and acknowledges that under current law, possessing those pictures was unlawful.
Mr. Rothenberg was subsequently charged with two felonies:
Count One: 18 U. S. C. § 2422(b). 1 e. Using a computer in interstate commerce to knowingly attempt to induce an individual under 18 to engage in criminal sexual activity.
Count Two: 18 U. S. C. § 2252(a)(4)(b). 2 Knowingly possessing one or more visual depictions transmitted in interstate commerce by computer involving a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
Mr. Rothenberg accepted complete responsibility for possession of the material and entered a guilty plea. He was subsequently sentenced to 25 years in prison. The sentence for possession of the pictures was 10 years.
Sentencing Mr. Rothenberg to a life sentence for “talking dirty on the Internet” is fundamentally unfair.
There is no evidence that he ever even spoke to a child in a lascivious manner, much less touched one inappropriately. Not once.
However, the court found a pattern of conduct based on his participation in the chat rooms. Furthermore, the police officer specifically created the imaginary child’s biography to invoke enhancements to the sentencing guidelines. If the victim is under the age of 12 or the victim is handicapped, the sentence is increased.
A life sentence for a non-contact offense against a child who does not exist is fundamentally unjust. Mr. Rothenberg was a 64-year-old man with no history of criminal conduct — in fact, with a lifetime of public service, charity fundraising, and a successful business career.
Depriving Mr. Rothenberg of adequate medical care constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
When he signed the Change of Plea form, Mr. Rothenberg was undergoing serious withdrawal from a lifetime use of prescription benzodiazepines. Numerous psychiatric records document that fact. There is no question that these medications were obtained legally, were not abused, and that his use was always monitored by a physician.
Mr. Rothenberg poses no danger to society and experts unanimously agree he is not a pedophile.
His sole true offense was possessing child pornography, a fact that he immediately admitted and even told the officers where to find it. The sentence for possessing those images would be ten years.
Mr. Rothenberg has been in prison since 2008 and will not be released until 2033. Psychiatric reports indicate that the probability that he will “reoffend” is minimal and that he is not a pedophile.
We respectfully ask the Court to grant Mr. Rothenberg a Compassionate Release.