A Broward County man who filmed himself performing sex acts on two children he was helping care for described that time in his life as “a period of madness.”
But the judge, the federal prosecutor and Randy Jerome Pozdol’s own defense attorney all agreed on one blunt word to describe the crimes: “Reprehensible.”
Pozdol, 68, was sentenced Monday in Miami federal court to the maximum term of 30 years — akin to a life sentence — on his conviction for one count of producing child pornography. U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard rejected the defense argument for a lighter sentence based on Pozdol not having a prior record, saying, “There aren’t many offenses in the U.S. code more heinous than this.”
Pozdol told the judge he had struggled with alcohol addiction, and as he tried to tackle it, a sex addiction took over. He was active in Alcoholics Anonymous and claimed to have been sober for 20 years. His involvement with child pornography, he said, was “a really bad time in my life.”
The crimes were further complicated by Pozdol’s relationship with the children’s mother, both as her lover and as her AA sponsor. She died in November 2006 of what was, at the time, ruled an accidental drug overdose. Broward sheriff's deputies later re-examined the woman's death to determine whether Pozdol might have given her a fatal dose of drugs, but they closed the case without charging him.
The pornographic video Pozdol made showed the woman’s children while they were apparently drugged into unconsciousness — the boy between 7 and 9, and the girl estimated to be between 4 and 6 — as Pozdol performed sex acts on them in their Dania Beach residence.
The judge reviewed the video in court Monday, but spectators could not see it.
Pozdol told the judge Monday that he “did not hurt those children,” because “they don’t know” what he did to them — a twisted logic that Lenard rejected as grounds for imposing the minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years.
Initially, Pozdol had faced state child pornography possession charges in Miami-Dade and capital rape charges in Broward. But state prosecutors agreed to drop their cases and allow the federal prosecution to take precedence.
At the time of the initial investigation in 2009, Pozdol’s computer was the number one IP address in the state trading in child pornography, said Miami-Dade police detective Jose Cabado, who first identified Pozdol using file sharing software.
Pozdol had 123 files of child pornography on his computer in addition to 160 pornographic VHS tapes and one 8mm tape, all of which were found in a locked chest in his house, according to court documents. Most of the tapes showed adults having sex, including one showing Pozdol with the children’s unconscious mother.
Pozdol, a retired carpenter and married man, faced his own personal tragedy while he was in custody awaiting trial. In August 2011, his only son, Drew Pozdol, was shot and killed by a Miami police officer during a confrontation at an Allapattah restaurant. He was 26.
Defense attorney Ed O’Donnell invoked the loss of Pozdol’s son as his client being “punished in another way, by a higher authority.” He said Pozdol accepted full responsibility for his crimes, as evidenced by his guilty plea. Prosecutors dropped six additional counts, including distributing pornography.
But the victims’ relatives urged the judge to impose the maximum sentence so that the children would never again have to see the man whom they once trusted.
“The guy’s a monster to think that the kids don’t know,” said their deceased mother’s brother, who adopted the boy, now 14. The deceased mother’s twin sister adopted the girl, now 12. The Miami Herald is not naming the relatives to protect the youth’s identities.
“They know they were hurt,” the uncle said of the youths. “This was not a victimless crime.”
O’Donnell asked the judge to allow Pozdol to turn himself in at a later date so he could get his personal affairs in order, since he is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars. The judge said no.
Cabado, in an interview, said child pornography is alarmingly common.
“If we catch hundreds of cases, you know you can multiply that number by 10 times, if not more, to get an idea of how many cases are out there,” he said.