Richard Daggett facing child porn charges

DOWNEY - Downey resident Richard Daggett, a community volunteer, polio survivor and nationally-known advocate for disabled peoples' rights, has been charged with two felony counts of possession and distribution of child pornography, the Downey Police Department confirmed Wednesday.Daggett has denied the charges. In a press release, officials said the police department's high-tech crime unit initiated an investigation into a person that was possibly using the Internet to download and share images and movies depicting child pornography. Authorities said they served a search warrant at Daggett's home on the 12700 block of La Reina Avenue, where detectives recovered computers and other digital media. A forensic analysis of those items revealed evidence of child porn, authorities said. Officials did not immediately say when Daggett was arrested, but his preliminary hearing is scheduled for early July. In an interview Wednesday, Daggett denied the charges and said the allegations "ruin my whole life in Downey." He also called the police department's decision to make the allegations public "dirty." "If they put something out like this without even me having a preliminary hearing, I think that's just really dirty," Daggett said over the phone. "I don't understand what they're trying to prove and why they would preemptively put out something like that. Are they trying to protect children in the community? I doubt that." Daggett, 70, said he has "never" viewed child porn on his computer, either on purpose or accidentally. He acknowledged, however, that his computer contained "a lot of pictures of nudists, some including children with their families." "I belong to several sites about nudism life, but that's just curiosity basically," he said. "There's nothing titillating about it." Daggett, who published a book last year detailing his life with polio, serves as a photography instructor with the Knabe Pediatric Arts program. When asked if he had ever taken photographs of children, he said "never." Daggett said he first learned of the police investigation in October. "When I first found out, I was almost suicidal," he said. "I would sue the police department, but I'm not a litigious person." Daggett was diagnosed with polio in 1953 and today is confined to a wheelchair. He was elected president of the Polio Survivors Association in 1980, a position he held 30 years. He was named Volunteer of the Year at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in 1988, and in 2006 he was presented with Rancho's Amistad Award. He sits on the board of directors of the Rancho Los Amigos Foundation. His book, "Not Just Polio: My Life Story," was published last year. -Eric Pierce, city editor

********** Published: June 16, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 9