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Former Professor Kirk Nesset released from federal prison after 2015 child pornography charges

Former Allegheny College Professor of English Literature Kirk Nesset, 63, was released from federal prison this year. Nesset was transferred to a federal prison in Phoenix, Arizona. Toward the end of his sentence, he was relocated to a federal halfway house, Residential Reentry Management Phoenix, where he awaited his release on Sept. 24.

Nesset was arrested and prosecuted on three counts of possessing, receiving and distributing child pornography in 2014, following an FBI and Pennsylvania State Police investigation. 

As part of his original sentencing, Nesset must remain on the sex offender registry after release and must report to sex offender and mental health therapy. He is permitted to have a computer as well as access to the internet, but his usage of the computer will be monitored. Nesset is not permitted to be near children for prolonged periods of time.

Several Allegheny College professors came to Nesset’s trial and a few stood when asked by the judge if anyone would stand in support of Nesset’s character. Former friends and colleagues of Nesset declined to comment to the Campus. 

Three adults, acting on behalf of eight girls seen in the child pornography found on Nesset’s computer, sued Nesset in Dec. 2016 over the children’s emotional distress and invasion of privacy, according to Marsh Law Firm PLLC. 

The plaintiffs sought a minimum of $150,000 for damages, compensation, court costs and additional relief. They were represented by Katie Shipp of Marsh Law Firm PLLC in New York and Carol Hepburn of Savage Law Firm in Seattle. The law firms specialize in sexual assault and victim compensation.

 While Nesset did not take the images or videos himself, he did share the images online. Court records indicate that the distribution of the images is anticipated to have a lasting impact on the victims, especially in their marriage(s) and interactions with children. 

“Victims of child pornography are constantly aware that their child sex abuse images will never disappear,” Hepburn and Shipp wrote in the complaint. “(They) will be repeatedly victimized by individuals like (Nesset) who endlessly participate in the market for child sex abuse images.”

According to an article written by the Campus in 2018, the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children indicated that “Fiona,” a pseudonym for one of the victims of child pornography, displayed signs of post-traumatic stress, including anxiety, anger and depression. Mental health professionals stated concerns about “Fiona” potentially engaging in substance abuse as a coping mechanism.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed to the public, but the law firm records indicate that the children received compensation in the civil lawsuit. Nesset’s case was closed in 2018, after appearing in court before the U.S. District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter.

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