Nelson given 15-year term for child pornography crimes

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HANCOCK COUNTY — A man accused of having thousands of images of child pornography in his possession while living in a Fortville apartment complex was sentenced for the crimes Thursday in Hancock County Circuit Court.

Judge Scott Sirk handed down a 15-year term with 10 years to be executed in prison following a lengthy sentencing hearing after a plea agreement had been reached.

Brandon Douglas Nelson, 25, 600 block of Bradley Drive, had been charged with 12 different Level 5 felony possession of child pornography with an aggravating factor charges as well as 13 different Level 6 felony counts of possession of child pornography charges.

All of the charges had different dates ranging from as far back as August 2019 to September 2022, indicating the sentences for each count could run consecutively. Level 5 felonies carry up to six years in prison while Level 6 felonies carry up to two and a half years.

According to the plea agreement, Nelson had to admit guilt to five different counts that would be served consecutively. The plea agreement stated Nelson was to be given an aggregate (total) term of no less than 10 years, but no more than 22 years, with the judge deciding how the term would be served.

After hearing testimony from both the prosecutor’s office and the defense attorney, Sirk sentenced Nelson to the 15-year total term with 10 years to be executed at the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) and 5 years suspended to probation. Sirk also told Nelson he would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

“It’s up to you how you respond from this point,” Sirk told Nelson.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Aimee Herring handled the case for the state and had asked the court for the 15-year term with 10 years to be executed while Nelson’s attorney, Shari Blessing, said her client had no criminal history and would not get the help he needs in prison. She asked for a total 10-year term with five years suspended to probation and five years to be served on house arrest.

Both sides called witnesses to the stand including an Indiana State Police Detective who worked the case and told the court Nelson could have been charged with many more crimes due to the thousands of images he had, including images of children being restrained and in bondage.

A doctor also spoke during the hearing and told the court Nelson admitted to her during a session he had been molested when he was 4 years old, and the doctor noted a traumatized brain can react in various ways officials may not yet understand. The doctor then told the court Nelson would not benefit from a prison term, asking the court to suspend the full term to probation.

Nelson’s father spoke on his son’s behalf and said he was not aware his son had a “dark secret” and had been molested as a child, but wishes he would have known so he could have gotten his son some help. Nelson’s father fought back tears when he talked about his son’s acts of having the child pornography in his possession.

Nelson, who sat at the defense table, pushed away tears then read from a prepared letter and told the court he never wanted to hurt someone the way he was hurt.

“I am disgusted by my action,” Nelson said. “I regret deeply what I have done and it was no one’s fault but my own. What I did is not who I am.”

According to a probable cause affidavit, On October 7, 2022, an Indiana State Police Detective received tips from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) indicating child pornography was uploaded by a social media user. Officials noted in the report the images and videos included horrific acts by adults against children of all ages, including against some children as young as infants.

On March 15, 2023, ISP detectives, along with ISP Cyber Crimes units, served a search warrant at the Jefferson Place Apartments in Fortville where Nelson had been living since August 2022. According to the probable cause affidavit, Nelson was present at the apartment along with a woman who was not charged in the case. During an interview, the affidavit noted Nelson admitted to using certain hidden applications on his phone and stated he had viewed child pornography.

During the search of the apartment, detectives located a SD memory card in Nelson’s backpack. The memory card, the affidavit said, revealed several images of what appeared to be child pornography, officials said in the report. When asked if he had downloaded the images, Nelson stated “probably,” the affidavit said.

An investigative report on April 10, 2023 indicated child pornography was located on three of the devices seized from Nelson’s residence.

Following the judge’s decision Nelson was taken to the Hancock County Jail where he will remain before being transported to the IDOC to start serving his sentence.