Wade Rowland Sanders, a decorated Vietnam veteran who worked closely with the Clinton administration, pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography this week. He maintains, however, that he never did it for personal or sexual reasons.
Wade Sanders' StoryWade Sanders is a retired Naval Reserve captain with a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart in his possession, media reports indicate. He was President Clinton's deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for reserve affairs. Now a lawyer, he had been serving as a senior military adviser for California's lieutenant governor until his arrest.
Agents took Wade Rowland Sanders into custody on November 7 following a two-and-a-half year investigation. They say -- and Sanders, in court, admitted -- he had hundreds of images showing minors in sexual acts. The files included a 21-minute video depicting young girls engaged with an adult man, court records obtained by the San Diego Union Tribune indicate.
Sanders' Child Porn ExplanationSo why would his motives be "pure and innocent," as Wade Sanders is quoted as saying in the Tribune's report? He had worked with the Clinton administration on helping child sex abuse victims internationally, he says, and had downloaded the files to research an article related to the subject. He claims he didn't know viewing the material for research purposes would constitute a crime.
"I have no sexual attraction to children whatsoever," Sanders tells the paper. "There was no evil intent."
Wade Sanders could face up to 10 years in prison, along with a possible $250,000 fine and required registration as a sex offender.
"I thought since my motives were pure and innocent, that would make a difference," he says. "I'm technically guilty of the crime."
FBI Timeline of Wade Rowland Sanders' CaseThe following timeline, assembled by the Tribune, shows some of the key moments in the Wade Rowland Sanders investigation:
• October 2007: Investigation into Wade Rowland Sanders begins; FBI agents report finding pornographic images of children on a computer in Sanders' home via a filesharing network
• May 2008: Agents seize Sanders' computer; Sanders reportedly admits to having the images but says he deleted the files immediately after their downloads
• May 2008: The FBI finds multiple videos showing child pornography on Sanders' hard drive, according to official documents obtained by the Tribune
• November 2008: Sanders is arrested
• December 2008: Sanders pleads guilty to one felony charge of possession of images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct
Sanders' sentencing is scheduled for March 30.