A U.S. District Court Judge sentenced a former Evansville-area Boy Scout employee to 78 months in prison Wednesday afternoon. The sentence stems from child pornography charges.
34-year-old Ryan Bieler pleaded guilty to one count of possession of sexually explicit material involving minors and four counts of receiving sexually explicit material involving minors in March. He was arrested in November. Officials say Bieler bought materials from a movie production company outside of the United States that allegedly produced child porn and had them delivered to his home in Jasper.
Sentencing began around 3:15 p.m. Wednesday and took just over one hour. Wearing a black-and-white striped prison uniform, Bieler stood at a podium with his attorney during the appearance. He remained calm, offering a statement and answering questions from both the judge and the State.
Ryan Bieler told the Court he was "truly sorry" and said, "I want this part of my life to be done with."
Bieler admitted to being sexually attracted to boys and having a problem looking at images and videos showing sexually explicit material involving minors. He said he never intended to go on the internet and commit this type of crime and that he "stumbled" on it.
Bieler told the Court he started off looking at non-pornographic material but then began viewing sexually explicit videos. He explained that he would watch those types of videos on YouTube before the site would take the videos down. He also admitted buying materials online.
Bieler also said he wanted to quit viewing the materials, but couldn't. He explained that he would delete files and links, but somehow would "find this kind of thing" again. He said he didn't know people could get help for this kind of thing, and that he does want help.
The State also brought up diaries Bieler kept, apparently beginning when he was around 17 and continuing into his time working with the Boy Scouts in New York. They said in them, Bieler wrote about being physically attracted to Boy Scouts and rated their physical appearance. Bieler explained that in the diaries anyone would find that he rates many things, including sports, music and books.
Bieler said that he had asked to feel scouts' muscles before and had felt scouts' muscles if he was invited to (i.e. they were talking about sports), but that he had never acted out toward a child to arouse his sexual desire. When asked by his attorney if he kept his "abnormal desires" away from his professional life working with Boy Scouts, Bieler replied that he thought he did. "I was around children, but I did not want to do anything to affect their lives at all," Bieler said.
Most recently, Bieler worked as a Senior District Executive with the Boy Scouts Buffalo Trace Council in Evansville. He said in court that his job was primarily administrative, but that he did have occasion to be around children. He said he was never a den leader.
Both the local Boy Scouts and the Boy Scouts in New York, where Bieler previously worked, have been notified of the charges. No reports of any molestation have surfaced.
Bieler's attorney told the Court his client never took part in distribution and didn't produce material, that he was only a customer. He also said his client had no criminal history. The defense asked for a minimum sentence of 60 months.
On the other side, the State asked the judge to hand down a sentence of 87 months. They said they believed that Bieler did pose a risk for future crimes.
Judge Richard Young told Bieler that penalties in this situation weren't just established for punishing people who look at pornography, but also to deter others from doing so. He said that demand for child pornography is what fuels supply.
Judge Young sentenced Bieler to 78 months in prison for each of the five counts, to be served concurrently. He said that sentence was at the low end of the guideline range set before him.
Bieler will serve his sentence at a prison where help will be available to him. In addition to that sentence, Bieler will also be required to undergo supervised released for 10 years after he leaves prison, he must register as a sex offender and may not have unsupervised contact with minors without the approval of his probation officer.