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AUSTIN EDITION - Defendant says he's turned his life around

By Tim Ruzek

truzek@postbulletin.com

When he took part in the secret filming of a sexual act with a minor, Erik Pehrson told a judge, it was during a period of alcohol and chemical abuse.

Since then, Pehrson said, he has changed his life and become a born-again Christian. He came to court Friday to take responsibility for his crime, he said.

"I hope that your life does turn around," Mower District Judge Donald E. Rysavy told Pehrson during sentencing.

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The judge gave Pehrson 30 days in jail with work-release privileges and five years of supervised probation for felony dissemination of child pornography.

Pehrson, 23, of Austin, who pleaded guilty July 28 to the charge, also must register as a predatory sex offender and not possess pornography.

Under his plea, Pehrson admitted to working with three other men to set up a scene in the basement of the Austin Daily Herald in late 2003 to secretly film sex acts with two 16-year-old girls.

Pehrson was the only one shown on the tape having sex with one of the girls, according to the criminal complaint.

The nearly 80-minute tape showed all four men preparing and discussing their plan, the complaint stated. They were Herald employees, but they no longer work at the newspaper.

A probation officer found the tape in March during a routine check at the home of Joshua David Bollinger, 26, of Austin, who was seen on the tape touching the other girl on the outside of her clothes.

The girls on the tape later told police they didn't know they were being recorded and were upset about it.

In court Friday, defense attorney Brandon Lawhead told the judge that Pehrson and the girl had been drinking the night of the incident. The girl told Pehrson she was 19, he said.

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Pehrson now has gained great introspection on his life and is working for a Christian-based business, Lawhead said.

The judge also sentenced Pehrson for fourth-degree driving under the influence Friday, giving him a 90-day stayed jail sentence with one year of supervised probation.

Pehrson must pay $690 overall for the two convictions.

On Dec. 30, Rysavy gave Bollinger a stayed 21-month prison sentence for his role in the taping. He pleaded guilty to felony possession of pornographic work involving minors and gross misdemeanor providing alcohol to a minor.

Kristopher Joel Cox, 22, another defendant ,who is serving in the military, was sentenced Dec. 20 to pay $970 and a stayed jail sentence for pleading guilty to gross misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

A plea hearing for Brian Linn Moser, 37, of Albert Lea, who allegedly filmed the sex act, is set for Feb. 25.

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