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Probation, short jail term in child porn case

A 42-year-old Mountain View man who had images of child pornography on his cellphone was sentenced Wednesday to five years probation.

Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura also sentenced Benjamin Jamie Krome to 18 months in jail, but suspended all but six months of the jail time provided Krome complies with terms of his probation.

Terms include he register as a sex offender, obtain sex offender treatment and stay away from schools, playgrounds, theaters and anywhere else unsupervised minors congregate.

In a deal with prosecutors, Krome pleaded guilty May 22 to second-degree promotion of child abuse and promoting prostitution. In return, two additional counts of second-degree promotion of child abuse were dropped.

Krome will receive credit for time served. He’s been in custody since his arrest May 5 in what appeared to be a sting operation at a Kalapana home.

Police said the prostitution charge involved “an adult prostitute,” and a document states Krome agreed to pay $80 for sex with “a cooperating informant” identified as Cynthia Ramos.

Ramos pleaded no contest Aug. 24 to an unrelated prostitution charge for an April 26 arrest in Kona and was fined $250.

Deputy Prosecutor Suzanna Tiapula asked the judge to sentence Krome to serve the full 18 months in jail, saying he’s “not deserving of this court’s lenience.”

“He takes minimal responsibility for these actions in these cases,” Tiapula said. “… At no time does he take responsibility for the fact that children between the ages of 4 and 10 were sexually abused for his pleasure. … He denied to the probation officer that they were even children, arguing … that he thought they were adults.”

Tiapula said Krome’s probation officer thinks he “has a high risk of recidivism” and added that Krome has eight prior felony convictions.

Krome’s attorney, Stanton Oshiro, argued for his client’s release on time already served.

“The link between Mr. Krome’s conduct … and the exploitation of children is so attenuated as to call into question the need for this incarceration the government is asking for,” Oshiro said. “… To argue that somehow Mr. Krome is directly responsible for that and has directly victimized these children, I think, stretches the limits of the causal connection between Mr. Krome’s conduct and the harm (to the children in the images).”

Oshiro said Krome, who was a student at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, came to Hawaii “to change his life.”

“He was doing very well here until this incident,” he said. “And, unfortunately, all of that has, essentially, gone out the door. His college career has been interrupted and maybe even terminated as a result of this, not to mention all the other lifelong ramifications of his conduct.”

Krome addressed the court briefly, saying he “understand(s) the concerns of the probation department.”

“I am … ready to address those concerns fully, through counseling and anything else that the court requires,” Krome said.

Tiapula said afterward that Krome’s prior felony convictions are in Utah, Colorado and California.

“None of the things he was convicted of (prior to coming to Hawaii) involve sexual offenses against children, and I’ll be very clear about that being his convictions,” she said.

Second-degree promotion of child abuse is a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment, while promoting prostitution is a petty misdemeanor.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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