King Salmon pilot sentenced for possessing child pornography

Jan 29, 2018

Robert Joseph May, a 42-year-old from King Salmon, will serve two and a half years in jail for possessing child pornography

King Salmon pilot, Robert Joseph May, was sentenced Thursday for two felony counts of possessing child pornography.

The 42-year-old pilot and contract flight controller from King Salmon pleaded guilty to both counts in October.

Alaska State Troopers arrested May in the summer of 2016 based on allegations that May had sexual contact with a 15-year-old from a nearby village on five different occasions. The investigation revealed that May had child pornography on his laptop and GoPro camera, which resulted in two separate child pornography charges. He was charged once for possessing images of himself engaging in illegal sexual activity with the 15-year-old. He was charged again for possessing 147 other images of child sexual exploitation.

In return for May’s guilty plea in October, the state dismissed five charges of second degree sexual abuse of a minor.

By the terms of the plea deal, each count of possessing child pornography carries with it a two year active jail term and six years of suspended jail time.

The primary point of contention at Thursday’s hearing was precisely how much time May should spend in jail.

District Attorney Thomas Aliberti argued that the sentences should be served consecutively for a total of four years in jail. He contended that May’s images of himself engaged in sexual conduct with the victim warranted the maximum possible time in prison.

“These offenses from the state’s perspective were not passive. They were predatory,” said Aliberti. “That’s what child predators do. They take advantage of a child’s need to feel appreciated, need for recognition and a child’s desire, at least at the age of fourteen and fifteen to engage in risks.”

May’s lawyer, Joshua Fannon, argued that May should be allowed to serve the sentences concurrently for a total of two years. He said it was inappropriate for the state to use the dropped sexual misconduct charges to ask for a harsher sentence.

“If there were those facts here, the state has the duty to present those to a jury for a conviction,” said Fannon. “They didn’t for a reason, so it’s disingenuous to rely on these facts to enhance the sentence for possession of child pornography.”

Fannon pointed to May’s previously clean record and argued that rehabilitation, not jail time, is important in this case.

“Do you need to isolate him because he’s a danger? No. He’s sick. He needs to be fixed. He wants to get fixed,” Fannon said.

Before Judge Michael Wolverton handed down the sentence, he gave May the opportunity to make a statement.

“I’d like to push forward and start recovering from this situation. I’m motivated to get through the recovery process, so it never happens again to me and anyone else it has affected in the last two years.”

Wolverton explained that rehabilitation and deterring May or others from committing similar crimes in the future were his primary concerns. He sentenced May to two and a half years jail time with twelve years suspended. May will serve 5 years on probation for each count and will register as a sex offender until fifteen years after he has successfully completed probation.

Contact the author at avery@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281.