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Gatten pleads guilty to child porn possession charges

Charles Greer Gatten, of Franklin, pleaded guilty Monday, Nov. 15, in Southampton Circuit Court to five charges of possession of child pornography.

Charles Greer Gatten

Gatten, now 67, was arrested at his home in the 200 block of Meadow Lane on Nov. 13, 2020, on three counts of possession of child pornography and three counts of the distribution of child pornography.

He waived his preliminary hearing Aug. 16 in Franklin City General District Court, and it was also then that the prosecution amended four of the six charges and dropped one. The remaining charges alleged possession of materials but no longer alleged reproduction or distribution of them.

Prosecutors stated during the Nov. 15 arraignment that Gatten had transmitted materials to himself, allowing for transfer from one of his electronic devices to another, rather than having transmitted materials to someone else, contributing to the dropping of any reproduction or distribution charge.

The prosecution also stated that it was work-related activity on Gatten’s computer that was taking place at the same time as transmission that led to the conclusion it was Gatten operating his computer rather than someone else.

Of the five remaining charges to which Gatten pleaded guilty, one is listed in the online case information system as a Class 6 felony possession charge, and the other four are listed as Class 5 felony possession second-offense charges.

Circuit Court Judge Matthew A. Glassman asked Gatten on Monday if he understood that the Class 6 felony possession charge carries with it the possibility of up to five years in a correctional facility and each Class 5 felony possession second-offense charge carries with it the possibility of up to 10 years in a correctional facility.

Gatten then spoke to one of his lawyers, who expressed that Gatten was under the impression it could be up to 10 years in a correctional facility for all of the second-offense charges combined. After it was made clear that actually all five charges carried with them the combined possibility of up to 45 years in a correctional facility, the judge asked him if he still wanted to continue with the plea, and Gatten said that he did.

Though the judge indicated the court is not required to follow sentencing guidelines, included with the guilty plea was a call for the court to operate within the guidelines.

Glassman said he would take the matter under advisement pending preparation of a pre-sentence report and a psychosexual analysis of Gatten.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric A. Cooke and J. Burkhardt Beale, an attorney for the defense, had no comment.

Gatten’s next court appearance is scheduled for March 22 at 9:30 a.m. in Suffolk. It will be in Suffolk due to the pending renovation of Southampton Circuit Court.