Stoughton realtor Paul Lawrence has pleaded not guilty to five felony counts of possession of child pornography.

Lawrence entered the not guilty plea during his arraignment hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 16, where he also asked to waive the preliminary hearing and his case was bound over to a trial judge, according to online court records. 

Lawrence’s next court appearance has not been published in the online court records system as of Wednesday, Nov. 17.

Lawrence, 67, who has spent decades serving within city government and community organizations, was arrested after police conducted a warrant on his 221 Veterans Road rental unit on Friday, Aug. 27. During the warrant search just after 7:30 a.m., City of Stoughton police found his closed laptop was allegedly still playing a video of two teenage boys having sex, a complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court states.

Possession of child pornography, a Class D felony, carries a minimum prison sentence of three years.

Police carried out a warrant after the state Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation received four CyberTipline reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) on June 16, and U.S. Cellular and Charter complied with a subpoena for Lawrence’s internet records in June and July. Google’s content scanning software alerted NCMEC to the pornographic images after Lawrence allegedly uploaded them to his account in April as a means of saving them to view at a later time, the complaint states.

Google shut down his account shortly after the images were flagged, the criminal complaint states, and that he thought he had deleted his entire porn collection afterward.

 

Lawrence had allegedly been seeking out child pornography online for around a year and a half, he told police, but had seen it appear on the websites for longer than that and would masturbate daily to it, the complaint states.

Lawrence spent nearly 20 years on the City of Stoughton Common Council before leaving the body in 2017 after losing to Lisa Reeves, and served on other boards such as the city’s Redevelopment Authority and the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission. He also serves on the board of directors for the Stoughton Opera House, and operates Paul Lawrence Realty.

 

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