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Ex-California Prosecutor, Son Of Key Watergate Figure, Sentenced Five Years Probation For Possessing Child Porn

Downtown San Diego federal building on Aug. 13, 2018.
Katie Schoolov
Downtown San Diego federal building on Aug. 13, 2018.

Raymond Liddy — a former deputy attorney general and a son of central Watergate figure G. Gordon Liddy — was sentenced Wednesday in San Diego federal court to five years of probation for possessing child pornography at his Coronado home.

Liddy was found to be in possession of sexually explicit images depicting prepubescent girls, which were found on a seized external hard drive and thumb drives, according to court documents.

Liddy was convicted earlier this year in a bench trial by U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo. She said there was no evidence that he actively sought out the material, but he received and saved the images sent to him.


Court documents detail an interview with FBI agents in 2017, in which Liddy said he frequented an adult chat site and may have come across such images inadvertently.

In imposing probation, the judge took into account Liddy's conduct, which she said was less egregious than that of "collectors" she typically sentences for such crimes, who she said often possess hundreds or thousands of such images.

She also noted that he had no prior criminal record and referenced current efforts to keep the prison population low due to COVID-19. She said that in these times, custody space should be reserved for those who are a larger threat to the community.

However, the judge noted the impact of the child pornography market on sexually exploited children.

"There are young children who are abused sexually, who are, in some cases, virtually tortured for the sexual gratification of adults," she said. "They are scarred for their lives. Every time they know these images have been re-circulated, the wounds are fresh, the abuse is alive again in their minds, and their own sense of self-worth and value is further diminished."


Liddy's probationary terms include strict monitoring of his Internet use.

The judge declined to rule on whether Liddy should register as a sex offender as that is a state law, though she noted that the terms of his probation precludes him from violating any laws, state or federal.

Liddy, who's in his 50s, brought a prepared statement to court, but was unable to read it, as he was overcome with emotion, sobbing frequently throughout the hearing and apologizing to Bencivengo "for my composure before the court."

One of his attorneys, Devin Burstein, read the statement on his behalf, in which Liddy wrote that he was "deeply ashamed" and "should have used better judgment. I blame no one but myself for my lack of judgment ... I understand that these images are horrible and more prolific on the Internet than I ever knew."

The investigation into Liddy began in January 2017, based on tips sent from an internet service provider to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The activity was eventually tracked to Liddy's home, where he was arrested in July 2017.

Liddy is a former Marine whose prosecutorial career largely dealt with civil cases regarding fraud. His father, a lawyer and FBI agent, was convicted of burglary, conspiracy and other charges in the Watergate scandal.

The elder Liddy — the chief operative in President Richard Nixon's White House Plumbers unit that organized and directed the burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building — served more than four years in federal prison for those crimes, which also included refusing to testify to the Senate committee investigating the Watergate scandal.

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