EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSOFF THE HOOK
from Eyewitness News Online
Charges Dropped Against Assistant Public Defender; Pictures, Chats Found On His Computer
Reported by: Kallie Cart
Web Producer: Kallie Cart
Reported: Dec. 4, 2012 6:58 PM EST
Updated: Dec. 5, 2012 10:20 AM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
It's case closed for a Kanawha County Assistant Public Defender. In July of 2011, Steven Conifer was charged with pimping out young children online but the Prosecutor now says there's not enough evidence to move forward.
Conifer was arrested last year after police were alerted to an on-line chat where Conifer allegedly was offering the sexual services of young boys for money. Conifer was charged with pimping but that charge has now been dropped because prosecutors say they could not find any actual boys and merely typing the words isn't illegal.
"While his conduct was terrible and shocking and disgusting, none of the conversations were technically criminal violations," Prosecutor Mark Plants says.
Since the charges have now been dropped, the case files are public record and Eyewitness News got a first look at evidence that was discovered in the case.
Most of the evidence includes extremely graphic on-line conversations allegedly pulled from Conifer's computers. In the conversations, Conifer allegedly offers the sexual services of young boys, going into graphic details about what the boys can do sexually, based on their age. There are also conversations where Conifer allegedly pretends to be a juvenile chatting with an adult and asks to meet up to have sex. The conversations are similar to the one that got him arrested.
Investigators also uncovered a handful of pornographic images allegedly found on Conifer's computers. Plants says its hard to determine how old the boys are in the pictures. A doctor from CAMC filed a report stating that based on a scientific assessment, she believes one of the pornographic pictures is of a 13 year old boy.
But Plants says if it takes a doctor to prove his age, there's no way to prove Conifer knew the boy was underage and that child porn cases usually involve multiple images. Plants says Conifer won't be charged with possession of child pornography.
"At the end of the day, I have to make a decision about whether there's enough evidence or not and if I try this case, I lose," Plants says. "There's just not enough evidence."
We did reach out to Conifer's attorney for comment but were told he doesn't speak to reporters. Conifer's case file will now be handed over to the state bar for their review.
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