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A 25-year-old Williamsburg man was sentenced to 40 months in prison Monday morning after pleading guilty to child pornography charges in federal court last fall.
Edward Joseph Matish III pleaded guilty Oct. 18 to one count of accessing with intent to view child pornography involving a prepubescent minor in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, according to a Department of Justice news release.
Matish was also given 10 years of supervised release once he is released from prison, the release said.
Matish was a member of a hidden website called “Playpen,” a site dedicated to the sharing of child pornography, from August 2014 to March 2015.
The release said the Playpen website operated on the Tor network, which is a free software that prevents people from learning about a user’s location or browsing habits, according to the Tor Project website.
Between October 2014 and March 2015, Matish logged on to the Playpen website and viewed material showing sexual exploitation of children.
In December 2014, Matish wrote on the site, explaining he used it to control his attraction to young girls, the release said.
“If you cant control yourself, you should quit,” he wrote, according to the case statement of facts. “I cant speak for everyone, but i come to this site to help me control myself I know im attracted to girls way too young to consider being with…This place is how I control myself and stop myself from doing something I know i’ll regret. Leave the touching to the brave souls willing to risk everything for our relief.”
The statement of facts said investigators were able to trace a computer’s IP address to a Playpen member named “Broden.” On or around Feb. 27, 2015, the user “Broden” accessed a sexually explicit video on the website, which involved an adolescent female. With the IP address, investigators also uncovered the host computer name, “Desktop,” and the computer logon name, “Eddie.”
After police searched Matish’s house, he told investigators his “memory is fuzzy” and he was in a state of “extreme emotional distress” between September 2014 and November 2014.
“… [I]t is entirely possible that I could have made an account in that time period and have no recollection of doing so,” he wrote in a statement to police. “I know I was acting like a different person at that point in time, so I can not deny any evidence brought against me from that time period.”
In anticipation of Matish’s sentencing Monday, family members and family friends submitted 11 letters to the court, attesting to Matish’s character.
A statement from Matish’s father, who lives and works in Williamsburg, was included in case court documents.
“We have always supported each other. We are part of each other. Our family feels the same way and ultimately we will all be there for him as we have throughout this unfortunate event,” the statement read.
“We still love him and will always be there for him and we all feel certain that this will not define his life,” it continued. “He will rise above this, learn from this, and will prevail.”