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Former cop jailed for online child sex abuse

MEDFORD — A former police officer was sentenced Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court to more than three years in prison for committing online sex crimes involving children.

Judge Ray White sentenced Mark Allen Heckerman, 43, to 38 months in prison for 20 felony counts of encouraging child sexual abuse. White found Heckerman guilty in a one-day bench trial on May 5 after the defendant waived his right to a jury trial.

For purposes of sentencing, White merged counts one through 10, giving Heckerman 20 months in prison for crimes committed on his desktop computer, said Jackson County Senior District Attorney David Hoppe. White gave Heckerman an additional 18 months in prison on 10 counts for crimes committed on his laptop computer, Hoppe said.

Heckerman also was sentenced to three years post-prison supervision and must register as a sex offender after his release, he said.

Heckerman, an 18-year law enforcement veteran in Hawaii and California, was convicted in Jackson County for a single count of invasion of privacy in August 2004, court records show.

Heckerman owned a construction company in the Rogue Valley and at least once attempted to join the Ashland Police Department, but the previous conviction ended his law-enforcement career, police said.

"This prison time was warranted," said Hoppe. "I felt (Heckerman) was not a candidate for optional probation given his prior conviction for privacy invasion."

The sex-abuse case began in spring 2008, when local police received information about Heckerman that was developed during a nationwide pornography investigation, police said.

Armed with a search warrant, officers in March 2008 searched Heckerman's Phoenix home and seized digital images that were later examined at the task force's lab and found to be child pornography, police said.

Heckerman fled the area immediately after the search, and he was believed to be in the Sacramento area, police said.

A Jackson County grand jury in August 2008 indicted Heckerman on the sex-abuse charges, but California police were unable to find and arrest him.

Heckerman surrendered to authorities in November 2008 after a three-day manhunt in Oregon and California. He telephoned investigators with the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force the same day investigators publicly announced their search for him, said Sgt. Josh Moulin, who heads the task force and testified against Heckerman at the trial.

Depending on the results of a mandatory presentencing investigation and White's review of the case, Heckerman could have faced anything from probation to a maximum of 19 to 20 months in prison for each charge.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.