Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
August 19, 2014 Session
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Sullivan County No. S60081 Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., Judge
R. Wayne Culbertson, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Randy Carl Hass.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Willis, Assistant Attorney General; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Counsel, Criminal Justice Division; Barry Staubus, District Attorney General, and William Harper, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.
Robert L. Jones, Sp.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Camille R. McMullen, J.J., joined.
ROBERT L. JONES, SPECIAL JUDGE
I. Procedural History and Facts
On November 15, 2011, the Sullivan County Grand Jury filed a 42-count presentment against the Appellant, Randy Carl Hass, on twenty-seven counts of sexual exploitation of a minor (more than fifty images), five counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, and ten counts of official misconduct. On October 29, 2013, in exchange for dismissal of the five counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, the Appellant pled guilty to one count of facilitation of sexual exploitation of a minor (more than fifty images), twenty-six counts of facilitation of sexual exploitation of a minor (fewer than fifty images), and all ten counts of official misconduct. The parties agreed to an effective sentence of twenty years, with fifteen of those years to be served under supervised probation. The agreement provided that the trial court would determine how the remaining five years of the sentence would be served. The Appellant applied for probation or alternative sentencing on this five-year sentence.
During the guilty plea colloquy, the State described the facts supporting the charges as follows: In April of 2011, the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office received complaints from parents of several teenaged boys participating in the department's Explorer program. The complaints alleged that the Appellant had taken photos of the boys and possibly engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with them. At the time, the Appellant was a corrections sergeant for the Sheriff's Office and served as advisor to the Explorer program. After speaking with the boys, detectives from the Sheriff's Office interviewed the Appellant. He admitted to having child pornography on his personal laptop and voluntarily gave the computer to the detectives. Detectives later found more than 100 pornographic images on the laptop. In addition to those pictures, detectives also found photographs of members of the Explorer program posed to mirror some of the pornographic images on the laptop, though the Explorers were clothed. Detectives found duplicates of these images on the Appellant's cell phone. The photographs of the Explorers had been made during an overnight trip the boys took under the Appellant's supervision to participate in a reenactment of a Civil War battle.
The trial court accepted the Appellant's guilty plea. At the sentencing hearing on November 14, 2013, the Appellant testified that he had been unable to find work since his arrest. He stated that since his arrest he had spent most of his time caring for his wife of twenty-five years, who has health issues. He said he had two adult children, a son and a daughter. His son is mentally challenged, though the Appellant said the son is self-supporting.
The Appellant testified that he has a Masters degree and that he had been employed for his entire adult life until his termination from the Sheriff's Office. He stated that he had served in the Army from 1983-1987 and received an honorable discharge. The Appellant testified that during his sixteen years at the Sheriff's Office, he was reprimanded twice: once for allowing inmates to remove the top part of their jumpsuits and once for improperly handling evidence.
The Appellant asserted that he understood the charges against him and said his actions had been "a huge mistake." He admitted remorse for his behavior and said he was sorry for everyone he had hurt. He stated that he had committed his crimes due to "curiosity."
The Appellant testified that he was attending weekly group therapy meetings as required under his probation. He stated that the therapy was beneficial "at times, " but at times the meetings addressed issues that "don't apply" to him. He expected to be in his therapy group for at least two years. He testified that he had not been able to afford any other professional counseling. The Appellant stated that he and his wife had no income other than his wife's Social Security disability payments.
When asked if he would likely reoffend, the Appellant testified that he had "not even tried to, not even thought about it." He said he felt he would be able to refrain from reoffending and to follow the terms of his probation. He stated that his counselor told him that he had done well on the psychological ...