A jury found a former Disney executive guilty today of possessing child pornography but failed to reach verdicts on charges that he crossed state lines seeking sex with someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl and arranged to have sex with her via messages on the Internet.
Patrick Naughton, 34, had pleaded not guilty to all three federal charges, claiming that his "dirty talk" with the "girl" was just fantasy.
The "girl" was in fact a 28-year-old FBI agent. Naughton faces up to 10 years in jail on the child pornography charge.
Naughton headed the Walt Disney Co.'s Go Network Internet portal when he was arrested in September.
Prosecutors told the federal court jury Naughton traveled from his home in Seattle for a business meeting in San Jose, Calif., and then flew to Los Angeles on Sept. 16 for a meeting at Disney headquarters. That night, he went to the Santa Monica pier for a rendezvous with the girl, whose chat room moniker was "KrisLA."
KrisLA was actually Los Angeles Sheriff's Deputy Amber Braaten, dressed to look much younger, who testified that she helped arrest Naughton on the pier after he identified himself and suggested they take separate paths to the beach below.
During the trial, Naughton put on what legal experts said was a novel defense, saying he knew the world of Internet chat rooms was a fantasy playground. He said he knew "KrisLA" was not 13 and the only reason he went to meet her was to find out who had been masquerading as the minor.
"It was just curiosity. I'd been strung along all these months. I felt confident it wasn't actually a minor. I turned out to be right," he told the jury.