Defense cites Tourette syndrome in case of New Castle man
A Lawrence County man became attracted to underage girls and collected child pornography because Tourette syndrome and an isolated upbringing limited his ability to interact with women his age, a forensic psychologist said Thursday during a sentencing hearing in Pittsburgh federal court.
Kelly Hardy, 40, of New Castle grew up in a "petri dish of dysfunction" and his parents ignored doctor's recommendations for counseling and treatment because "they don't talk to psychiatrists," said Jolie Brams, a Columbus, Ohio, psychologist. His parents discouraged Hardy and his two brothers from making friends, so Hardy grew up with a desire for relationships he couldn't form, she said.
"He just had no idea how to have one," Brams said.
Hardy pleaded guilty Oct. 22 to possession, receipt and transportation of child pornography. Federal guidelines recommend that he receive a prison sentence of 30 years to life.
Public defender Penn Hackney asked U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer to ignore the guidelines.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Haller argued that Hardy's mental problems should not entitle him to leniency. Both of Hardy's brothers exhibit symptoms similar to Hardy's but haven't become pedophiles, he said.
University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris said that he never heard of using Tourette syndrome as a defense in a child pornography case but said mental issues frequently are raised when judges consider sentences.
"This testimony from the forensic psychologist is not being used to excuse or justify his conduct in a way that would result in his being acquitted. It is being used to offer an explanation to the judge as to how he ended up in this situation," Harris said.
Hardy amassed thousands of images and videos of child pornography, videotaped neighborhood children playing and stole girls' panties from homes he visited, according to court documents. In online chats with other child pornography collectors, Hardy said "he would most like to rape 8-year-old girls but would rape any girls from 2 to 15 years of age," court records show.
Brams said Tourette syndrome causes people to obsessively collect or "hoard" things. That helps explains the 60 hard drives and other digital media police found when they searched Hardy's home, she said.
"He collected more pornography than anyone could ever look at," she said.
Haller said even if Hardy didn't watch the pornography, he traded it for other images and videos. Although Tourette might cause someone to collect compulsively, "it does not decide what you are interested in collecting," he said.
If anything, the combination of Tourette syndrome and pedophilia makes Hardy more of a risk to society because it means he has less control over his impulses, Haller argued.
Fischer took the arguments under advisement and continued Hardy's sentencing hearing to Sept. 28.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- High school football notebook: WPIAL might welcome another team next year
- Firefighters rescue woman from burning home in Scott
- Pittsburgh police warn residents about phone scam
- Man apprehended after jumping White House fence
- Nearing season’s midpoint, Steelers still have issues to sort out
- Steelers notebook: No-huddle gets limited use vs. Texans
- Previewing some of Western Pa.’s top Week 9 matchups
- Penguins notebook: Team pays tribute to Ottawa shooting victims
- WPIAL, coaches are still looking to schedule Week 9 rivalry games
- Buffalo Township grandma pleads guilty to selling hundreds of pounds of weed
- H.S. Picks rounding into postseason form