By: Julie Woon
Former Illinois Rep. Farnham pleaded guilty Friday morning to child pornography charges, admitting he received, distributed and traded child pornography through Yahoo email addresses on computers in his home and office.
Farnham is required to register as a sex offender within the next three days. His sentencing is scheduled for March 19 and he is facing a maximum of 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Since his arrest, Farnham has been free on bond but held on home confinement. He is required to wear a tracking bracelet and is prohibited from using computers, accessing the Internet and having unsupervised contact with minors.
While the government considers trading in child pornography a crime of violence, Farnham, 67, has requested leniency because of his medical condition. His doctor confirmed that Farnham is suffering from bladder cancer, hepatitis C, and pulmonary fibrosis, which is incurable.
Farnham’s lawyer, Terry Ekl, told reporters after the hearing that his client is in need of a lung transplant and that, without it, he will continue to need oxygen. At the time of his diagnosis, the doctor gave Farnham a life expectancy of only three years, most of which has already passed.
U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang said he would recognize those “exceptional reasons” and the defendant’s age while considering various sentences.
In March, a search of Farnham’s Elgin home and office by U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement officers found several computers with thousands of explicit images of children as young as four years old. A federal complaint stated that Farnham had visited online chat rooms in search of child pornography using fake names. In one of the conversations, Farnham bragged about sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl.
Ekl said Farnham’s statement was a lie and that he had never had any physical contact with a minor.
Farnham was not charged with sexual assault, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. After he was charged in April, Farnham initially maintained his innocence. He stepped down from his position citing “health issues,” on March 19. Farnham had served in the Illinois House since 2008.