Auchincloss gets 30 days
The half-brother of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis apologized to family, friends and the community before being led off to jail Wednesday on child pornography charges.
"What I did was immature, irresponsible, indefensible, stupid and inexcusable," said James Auchincloss, shortly before heading out the side door of Judge Mark Schiveley's courtroom to begin serving a 30-day jail sentence.
There will be no early release, home detention or work release, Schiveley said.
As part of a negotiated plea agreement with Jackson County prosecutors, Auchincloss, 63, of Ashland, acknowledged possessing and distributing photographs of prepubescent children, images prosecutors described as lewd and lascivious in nature. He pleaded guilty to two felony counts of first-degree encouraging child sexual abuse.
When asked by a television reporter earlier this week why he accepted a plea agreement, Auchincloss answered he did not believe he could receive a fair trial in Jackson County.
Verifying anonymous reports of an e-mail threat made against Auchincloss' life, Deputy District Attorney David Hoppe said Auchincloss will be segregated from the rest of the jail population during his incarceration.
Hoppe said he did not know whether the threat against Auchincloss is credible. But steps will be taken to make him "as safe as possible in jail," he said.
Co-defendant Dennis Vickoren, 58, also pleaded guilty to two felony counts of the same crime.
The former Rogue Valley Transportation District bus driver and Sunday school teacher also offered apologies and will begin serving his jail sentence on Sept. 20.
Schiveley ordered 30-day sentences for each man's two guilty pleas, but allowed their sentences to run concurrently. Auchincloss and Vickoren will serve three years' probation, during which they must stay away from children and undergo sex-offender treatment. They must also be registered as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. Failure to follow any of the probation guidelines could result in a prison term of up to 18 months for each guilty plea, Hoppe said.
"This was a good opportunity to show that justice operates equally," said Hoppe. "We favor no class or person."
In summer 2008, Ashland police began investigating Auchincloss and Vickoren in connection with child pornography. That October, police searched their homes and found graphic images of young boys, according to search warrant affidavits.
Auchincloss was originally indicted on 25 felony counts of encouraging child sexual abuse in August 2009 and initially pleaded not guilty to the charges. Vickoren was indicted on 30 felony counts and also initially pleaded not guilty, Hoppe said.
Carl Caplan, Auchincloss' defense attorney, said his client has no criminal history and is not a threat to children or to the community. Auchincloss did not take, buy or sell the pictures — beyond that, Caplan said, he "did not comprehend" that the images of "unclothed children" were pornographic.
"These were not pictures of children being molested," Caplan said.
Judge Schiveley disagreed. Any child subjected to these types of photos has been victimized, he said.
Edward McManus, Auchincloss' former assistant, testified before the grand jury that Vickoren and Auchincloss viewed child porn on computers.
"They were downloading porn in my name," McManus said Wednesday outside the courtroom.
McManus said the sentence was "not enough."
"I do not feel justice was served, nor was it swift," he told The Associated Press. "I thought I would feel differently today. I thought I would have a sense of closure. I am disappointed."
McManus said he has lost friends because he came forward.
"A lot of people seem to be more concerned with Auchincloss' welfare rather than the welfare of our kids," he said.
Court records show McManus has a $50,000 civil suit pending against Auchincloss for defamation.
Auchincloss has been prominent in Ashland theater. Vickoren produced a Rogue Valley TV public-access show hosted by Scott Clay, a former Jacksonville city planner, called "Wilde Life," which dealt with gay issues. Southern Oregon University suspended the show after Clay's indictment last August on charges of possessing and distributing child pornography.
Clay traded images with Vickoren and Auchincloss. He pleaded guilty Friday to one count of second-degree encouraging child sexual abuse, Hoppe said.
Clay was sentenced to 20 days in the county jail on Friday. He is also required to register as a sex offender and undergo sex-offender treatment under a plea agreement. Hoppe said Clay's exact date of incarceration has yet to be determined because of family circumstances.
Clay attended Vickoren's and Auchincloss' sentencing.
Sanne Specht is a reporter at the Mail Tribune at 541-776-4497 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.