Casually chatting with a family friend before his change of plea hearing Wednesday, Daron Voshel, 35, of 2626 Barth Road, Belpre, fell upon the topic of divorce.
"You know how it is, it's always the kids that get hurt," he commented.
Thirty minutes later Voshel pleaded guilty to two fifth-degree felony counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Pleading guilty to two fifth-degree felony counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, Daron Voshel, right, stands next to his attorney, Rolf Baumgartel. Voshel, 35, of 2626 Barth Road, Belpre, admitted in Washington County Common Pleas Court Wednesday to having possessed two photos depicting full frontal nudity of young boys.
Voshel was arrested June 8, when his Parole Officer Megan Gault received an anonymous tip that Voshel was attempting to meet the mothers of young boys on the Internet. At their next meeting, Gault asked to see Voshel's laptop and called the Marietta Police Department after finding a photo titled "nude boy," said Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.
"Police obtained a search warrant and found on the computer over 100 photos of young boys, most in their underwear in various poses," said Schneider.
Of the photos, three or four were of fully naked boys and two depicted full frontal nudity of boys who were obviously younger than 16, he added.
Just after the hearing began, Voshel's attorney, Rolf Baumgartel, asked for time to speak with his client privately and the court recessed for five minutes. Baumgartel later said that he had not yet discussed with Voshel the implications of pleading guilty to a crime committed while on post-release control.
Because Voshel was in possession of the photographs while on post-release control, they are a violation of his parole.
"If you plead guilty, whatever your sentence is, I'll be required to sentence you to an additional year or however much time is left on your post-release control, whichever is greater," explained Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane.
During his arraignment in June, Marietta Police said Voshel was on parole for a first-degree felony rape conviction in 2000 that had involved a 4-year-old boy. Prior to Wednesday's guilty pleas, Voshel was already listed as a registered sexual predator on the Washington County Sheriff Office's website.
When indicted in August, Voshel was charged with two second-degree felonies and two-fifth degree felonies. The two photos displaying full frontal nudity where charged both ways, explained Schneider, but could ultimately only lead to one conviction per photo.
"We are electing to allow the defendant to plead guilty to the fifth-degree felonies. Had there been live victims who could testify to that, no plea deal would be offered," said Schneider.
Schneider later clarified that the photos were of live boys, but it was evident the defendant had retrieved them from the Internet and not taken the photos himself.
The agreement also included a specification that Voshel could not be later charged for any of the other 100 images found during the initial search of his laptop.
For the two-fifth degree felonies, Voshel could receive a maximum prison sentence of two years. He would also be required to register as a tier one sex offender for the next 15 years, said Lane.
"My client would like to make it clear that he has taken big steps with his family to make sure he is never around children," added Baumgartel.
Lane ordered a pre-sentence investigation report and set sentencing for Nov. 29. Lane also revoked the $30,000 bond that had been set at the initial arraignment.
"Because he is now a convicted felon, I order him held without bond," concluded Lane.