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Ex Disney Exec Cleared of Charges

January 22, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A federal judge dismissed a child pornography charge against a former Disney Internet executive Friday, ruling jurors may have relied on a law ruled unconstitutional the day after his conviction.

Patrick J. Naughton of Seattle, a former executive with the Disney Go Network, still faces a March 21 retrial on two previously dismissed charges: seeking sex with a minor over the Internet and interstate travel to have sex with a minor. The jury was unable to reach a verdicts on those charges.

Prosecutors also plan to retry the dismissed pornography conviction, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Donahue said Friday.

Naughton was convicted on the pornography count Dec. 16. The next day, a federal appeals court ruled in another case that it was a violation of free speech to ban ``cyber porn,″ images of children generated by computer that don’t use minors.

Naughton, who co-wrote the Java computer language, also wrote programs for the Go Network designed to screen out foul language and pornographic images.

He was fired after he was arrested in September at the Santa Monica Pier, where he allegedly arranged to meet a 13-year-old girl he met in an Internet chat room. The teen-ager turned out to be an undercover police officer. At trial, Naughton testified that he thought he was corresponding with a woman posing as a juvenile as part of a sexual fantasy.

After the judge dismissed the pornography charge Friday, Naughton’s attorney, Donald Marks, said: ``We are very grateful, very happy and very relieved.″

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