Editor’s Note: Child pornography charges were eventually dismissed.
After two mistrials and more than four years under accusation for possession of child pornography, Dennis Flint accepted a plea deal Monday for greatly reduced charges. Instead of facing felony charges of child porn possession, Flint pleaded guilty to one count of computer crime - a class 2 misdemeanor. The charge carries penalties of three to 12 months in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Sentencing is set for Feb. 28.
Flint's two previous trials on the charges both ended in mistrials caused by hung juries, the first in June, the second on Oct. 22.
"We've been working on a plea deal since the second mistrial," District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said. "We didn't want to go to a third trial."
Flint, 54, also pleaded guilty to harassment charges in a separate case from December, 2008 involving his daughter. The original charge was third-degree assault and child abuse. The harassment charge carries a sentence of up to six months and jail and $750 in fines. He will be sentenced in that case at the same time as the other Feb. 28.
Of the plea deals, Hurlbert said he would have preferred to get a conviction at trial.
"We're pleased with it," he said. "It involves accountability. He has to get a psycho-sexual evaluation, which will provide some amount of community safety."
Flint was arrested in 2009 after an FBI investigation found graphic sexual images of children as young as 3 years old on computer hard drives in the Flint home in July of 2006. The FBI was tipped off by Flint's now ex-wife, Dawn, who installed hidden software that captured screen images on the family's computer.
Before his arrest Flint was CEO of High Country Health Care. After graduating from Summit High School he attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and later served in the Air Force as a pilot. He has never been convicted of a felony.
Responding to the idea that Flint was punished severely by the charges themselves and coverage of the case in the media, Hurlbert said those "collateral effects" are things his office cannot control.
"We're very careful who we accuse," Hurlbert said. "These were very serious crimes he was accused of and we wouldn't have done it without reason."