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Charges delayed after child pornography arrest of human rights advocate

Larry Brinkin's computers being searched for evidence

The San Francisco district attorney's office has decided to delay filing child pornography charges against veteran human rights advocate Larry Brinkin so that forensic investigators can examine computers seized during his arrest Friday night. 

“The district attorney’s office is taking this case very seriously," spokeswoman Stephanie Ong Stillman said today. "We are waiting for computer forensic evidence to be completed so we can make a proper charging decision. These types of cases are complex in nature, and we require more time to thoroughly evaluate the evidence.” 

San Francisco police arrested Brinkin, 66, at his home Friday night on three felony counts, including possession of child pornography, advertising the sale or distribution of child pornography and the sexual exploitation of a child. According to the search warrant for Brinkin's home, pornographic images of minors were being exchanged through email accounts, including one registered to Brinkin. The district attorney's office initially said it expected to decide today whether to file charges in the case.

Brinkin, who spearheaded early efforts to recognize same-sex partnerships and served more than two decades on the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, remained in custody overnight before he was released Saturday on bail. 

Brinkin did not return calls seeking comment. Brinkin's attorney, Randy Knox, declined to comment when reached by phone today. 

Police say in the search warrant that Brinkin’s email account contained messages embedded with pornographic images of small children. 

One photo shows a child about 2 to 3 years old being sexually abused, according to the search warrant. Another shows an adult male attempting to receive oral sex from a small child. 

Brinkin’s account was linked to several Yahoo discussion groups on the sexual exploitation of children, according to the search warrant. Emails from Brinkin’s account to other users contained stories police suspect were fictional accounts written by Brinkin. The stories describe the rape and torture of African American children, according to the search warrant. One of the emails contained the words “White Power! White Supremacy!” 

Investigators believe members of the groups were also sharing pictures of children. 

The investigation began in February, when Los Angeles Police Department investigators, working off of a tip from America Online, traced email exchanges containing illicit images to San Francisco. 

Police in San Francisco confirmed that one of the email addresses was registered to Brinkin, who paid for the account with his credit card. 

Police executed a search warrant for Brinkin’s home in Lower Haight on Friday evening. Authorities seized two locked toolboxes containing VHS tapes, two laptop computers, one desktop computer, three thumb drives and a floppy disk, according to court records. 

During his 22 years on the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, Brinkin fought high-profile battles for the rights of workers, immigrants and, most notably, gays and lesbians. When Brinkin retired in 2010, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors declared the first week of February “Larry Brinkin Week.” 

“He has been an institution in the LGBT community for a long time, so this comes as a complete shock for those of us who have worked with him,” said Supervisor David Campos.

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