General Crime

Former San Mateo County Probation Chief Stuart James Forrest Convicted Of Possessing Child Pornography

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A former San Mateo County probation chief convicted of possessing child pornography was sentenced today to 10 months in county jail and was led away from court in handcuffs. Stuart James Forrest, 62, was also placed on three years’ probation and must register as a sex offender for life, retired Santa Cruz Judge Robert Atack ruled in San Mateo County Superior Court this morning. Before being sentenced, Forrest took a few moments to express regret for his conduct. He admitted to buying child pornography and said he was sorry that he had. “I did not stop to think about who’d get hurt, even indirectly,” Forrest said. He said as a result, he has shamed himself and his family. “(My career) is a family legacy that I have turned to ashes. I don’t ever expect to be in a position of trust again,” he said. A jury found Forrest guilty on July 26 of two counts of possession of child pornography.

Forrest was arrested in December 2012 after being named in a complaint by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service that alleged that he possessed child pornography on his personal computer. He was placed on formal administrative leave on Dec. 21 and retired 10 days later on Dec. 31. Forrest, who testified on his own behalf in his July trial, said he had collected the images and videos for the purpose of policy decisions and research into the rise of human trafficking. The case was prosecuted through the state Attorney General’s office with Atack presiding as judge. The case was turned over to the state due to the close working relationships Forrest had with San Mateo County judges and the district attorney’s office during his 34-year career with the county.

Deputy Attorney General Johnette Jauron said today that she hoped Forrest would get the maximum sentence for his crimes, which was three years and eight months in state prison. “He is not only responsible for re-victimizing children who have already been victimized but also giving value to people producing this material,” Jauron told the court. She called his behavior “abhorrent and predatory” and an extreme abuse of his position of trust. Forrest will return to court for a restitution hearing on Oct. 25.

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