City man gets 7 years in child porn case

Posted: April 10, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — A city man was sentenced to seven years in prison Tuesday after previously pleading guilty to seven counts of possession of child pornography.

Benjamin Joseph Heavner, 29, of Wharton Circle, appeared Tuesday with attorney William A. “Beau” Bassler in Winchester Circuit Court.

As part of an agreement with the city Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Heavner was facing between four years and two months and 11 years and 11 months at the sentencing hearing.

Four other child pornography-related charges were not prosecuted.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Alex Iden brought up evidence at Tuesday’s sentencing hearing that Heavner was convicted in 2011 in Frederick County of aggravated sexual battery involving a 4-year-old girl.

Investigator A.J. Hipple with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office testified that Heavner put his hands down the girl’s pants and had “groomed” her to believe that he was her boyfriend.

“Not only is he someone who possesses child pornography, he’s a practitioner,” Iden said of Heavner.

Bassler put on evidence that spoke to Heavner’s good behavior while at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center, according to Iden.

Heavner apologized before Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. sentenced him.

Iden previously said in offering evidence to the court that the charges against Heavner began as a peer-to-peer investigation by Virginia State Police.

Officers were able to download child pornography from Heavner’s account using a program called Limewire.

Authorities found probable cause in the case on April 12, 2010. An administrative search warrant was carried out 14 days later, and a criminal search warrant was issued June 23 and executed the following day.

According to Iden, Heavner indicated to police that he had child pornography on two laptop computers and a portable data storage device.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com