COLUMBUS, Ohio – A pediatric doctor who pleaded guilty to accessing child pornography is citing a troubled childhood and his own sexual abuse as a boy as he seeks a lower prison sentence.
Prosecutors are calling for a four-year sentence for Christopher Pelloski, former director of Ohio State University’s pediatric cancer radiation program. He pleaded guilty last year to a single count of accessing digital files intending to view child pornography. Sentencing is May 2.
A criminal complaint against Pelloski last summer said he acknowledged to investigators that he used his home desktop computer and a laptop belonging to Ohio State University to download child pornography.
Evidence against Pelloski included two graphic videos and about 85 images of child pornography, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Pelloski’s family struggled financially as he was growing up in an emotionally abusive household, his attorneys said in a Thursday court filing. He was sexually abused three times, they said.
Pelloski compensated for his childhood by becoming an overachiever but also developed poor coping skills, such as abusing alcohol, the filing said.
His crime “was a misguided attempt at processing his own abuse and repressed memories,” attorneys said.
They don’t ask for a specific sentence, merely a “lenient” punishment that would include mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Pelloski could face nearly six years in prison, but prosecutors are recommending four years followed by five years of supervision. They acknowledge his troubled childhood but say his crime was a serious one.
Files viewed by investigators were “truly disturbing,” and evidence showed Pelloski had been engaged in child porn since 2007, according to a government court filing Thursday.
Prosecutors also said Pelloski’s crime came at a time when he was providing care for children in his jobs, which included work at a children’s hospital in Columbus, prosecutors said. There is no allegation the child pornography involved children in his care.
“The government believes that the position of trust and responsibility that the defendant was given in regards to young and vulnerable children heightens his culpability in this case and warrants a significant term of incarceration,” they said.
The state medical board has suspended Pelloski’s license pending the outcome of the criminal case against him. Pelloski must reapply to practice medicine again.