For Immediate Release - July 22, 2008

Lawrence Man Sentenced In Child Porn Case

Matthew Grasso, 21, of 73 Thornton Street, Lawrence, pleaded guilty today in Salem Superior Court, to 34 counts of possession of child pornography with intent to disseminate, and 17 counts of possession of child pornography.

Judge Howard J. Whitehead sentenced Grasso to two consecutive two-year terms in the House of Correction, with a condition that the defendant must not accept parole until his sentence is completed. Grasso will be on probation for 20 years upon his release.

Terms of his probation include that Grasso register as a sex offender, adhere to an 11 p.m. curfew, be subject to GPS monitoring, and that he not leave Massachusetts without the permission of the court. In addition, he may not possess or use a computer, and may not access the Internet with any device, including a cell phone, during his 20 years of probation.

Judge Whitehead further ordered that as a condition of probation, Grasso must undergo sex offender treatment and counseling at the direction of the probation department.

Essex Assistant District Attorney Marcia Slingerland asked the court to impose a sentence of 10-15 years in state prison, while Defense Attorney Carol Cahill urged the court to impose a 2 ½ year suspended sentence.

Judge Whitehead made clear the gravity of the crimes during sentencing, but indicated he was imposing the House of Correction sentences due to the defendant's youth, and because Grasso began accessing child pornography, without intervention, from the time he was just 15 years old. The judge told Grasso that if he violates probation in any way during the two decades after his release, he faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in state prison.

The case was investigated by Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett's Computer Facilitated Crime Unit. The lead investigator on the case was Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Murphy. The case was referred to the Essex District Attorney's Office by Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC), which is affiliated with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

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