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Last updated on Wednesday, June 20, 2012
(EVANSVILLE) - An Evansville woman was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for her role helping her husband produce child pornography, the Evansville Courier and Press reported.
Emma Dell Hodge, 44, appeared before Chief Judge Richard L. Young in U.S. District Court at Evansville on Tuesday.
"These are just the most horrendous, disgusting acts," he said.
Hodge was sentenced for participating with her husband, Larry Everett Hodge, in sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl who they cared for after school and at other times. He was sentenced to 115 years in prison last month.
"When you move from being a trader in child pornography and become a producer, you have taken it to a whole new level," said Joseph Hogsett, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana after her sentencing.
Young sentenced Emma Hodge to 15 years each on two counts of producing child pornography and two counts of conspiracy to produce it. Although the production sentences will be served one after the other, Young ordered the conspiracy sentences to be served concurrent to them.
"I never meant for this to happen. I'm sorry," she said.
She admitted to participating in two of the seven photography sessions uncovered by investigators. Federal authorities said two videos also were found. Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Shellenbarger said in court that 18 separate images of Emma Hodge and the victim were recovered.
Young noted Tuesday that the girl will be a lifetime victim, not just in her own life, "but in the cyber world as well."
"These pictures never disappear once they enter the Internet," he said.
Defense attorney Conor O'Daniel noted Emma Hodge was twice abused as a child and felt abandoned by her mother, who did nothing about it. It was a defense that echoed Larry Hodge's, who also claimed childhood sexual abuse during his sentencing last month.
O'Daniel said that fear of abandonment carried over into her adult life. He said Emma Hodge did not want to participate at first but that Larry Hodge "hounded and hounded" her until she gave in out of fear that he would stop loving her. He also said Larry Hodge threatened to kill her if she ever left him and was controlling in their marriage.
"How does an otherwise law-abiding person engage in conduct that is so vile?" O'Daniel said. "There is always something lurking underneath."
He submitted a psychiatric evaluation that determined that while she had serious mental impairments she had a fear of abandonment stemming from childhood experiences. O'Daniel said that fear drove her to seek relationships with individuals she perceived as stronger.
"She was not the mastermind in this. That was her husband. She was a participant. She was an unwilling participant," he said.
But Shellenbarger said Emma Hodge had held down a full-time job with a local financial company and was the mother of two children from a previous marriage, as well as stepmother to Larry Hodge's children. He argued she could have refused to participate, could have kept the girl away from her husband and could have reported the abuse, but chose not to do any of those things.
"She knew about the abuse. She could have stopped it," Shellenbarger said.
He said six of the seven photography sessions happened after Emma Hodge knew about the abuse, but she did nothing.
Evansville Police Department Detective Nathan Schroer testified that Emma Hodge told him during an interview that the victim was in bed while she had sex with Larry Hodge and he made the girl participate.
Schroer also said Emma Hodge told him that she knew her brother-in-law, George K. Jackson, was receiving images of the abuse. Jackson also is charged in the case.
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