Crime

Godfrey man could face up to 180 years for child porn

A Godfrey man faces up to 180 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography and sexual assault.

David Von Bergen, 35, of Godfrey pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of child pornography and two counts of predatory sexual assault of a child. He was charged in 2014 after the Madison County Sheriff’s forensic computer crimes unit found evidence of child pornography and multiple sexual acts with two young girls.

“Hopefully, these young victims will be able to find hope and healing, now that they can see justice done without having to shoulder the responsibility of convincing a jury of the suffering they endured,” Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said in a press release.

Gibbons said prosecutors discussed the plea and possible sentence with the family in advance, taking their wishes into account. “The family was supportive of the decision, as it requires the defendant to admit his guilt and gets justice for the girls,” Gibbons said.

Von Bergen was to stand trial next week in Madison County court. Instead he pleaded guilty to all four counts, which are class X felonies that can carry sentences as high as 30 to 60 years each.

Von Bergen had a previous conviction of child pornography in 2001, and thus qualifies for an enhanced minimum sentence, according to the Madison County State’s Attorney’s office. His charges will run consecutively, which means he could be sentenced to 30 up to 180 years in prison.

The case was investigated by the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, the Child Advocacy Center and the Children’s Justice Division headed by assistant state’s attorney Kathleen Nolan. Gibbons said the coordination between these departments shows their importance to resolving this case without requiring young victims to testify in front of a courtroom. “Our children’s justice division works tirelessly to fight for the victims of these deplorable crimes and ensure that these dangerous individuals are removed from our communities,” Gibbons said.

Gibbons said prosecutors will seek the maximum sentence for Von Bergen after the pre-sentencing investigation, during which he’ll remain in custody at the Madison County Jail. Sentencing should take place in six to eight weeks.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald

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