INDIANAPOLIS — Judge Larry J. McKinney said the word betrayal didn’t adequately convey the true harm Brian D. Hindson caused by exploiting the kids who most trusted the former swim coach.

On Friday, McKinney rejected Hindson’s plea for leniency and sentenced him to 33 years in federal prison for 16 felony counts of crimes against children.

“We’ve talked and talked about betrayal of trust,” said McKinney, judge for the U.S. Southern District Court, referring to comments Hindson made in a formal statement of apology prior to sentencing.

“What we’re really talking about is a violation,” McKinney continued. “It’s a violation of the most basic adult responsibility in our civil society to our children. It’s a violation of the right these children have to grow up in a free society with the rest of us.”

Hindson used hidden cameras to record videos of 11 female victims — who were between 13 and 17 years old when they were taped — from 1998 to 2007. The girls were taped while undressing in the Memorial Gym locker room in Kokomo.

Hindson distributed pictures of four of those victims on the Internet, later confessing to police that he wanted bragging rights among a group of fellow voyeurs he corresponded with online.

Further, Hindson admitted to corresponding online with five of the victims, posing as a teenage swimmer named “Matt Kennsington.” By that ruse, he persuaded one of his victims to send him a compromising picture of herself, which he also distributed on the Internet.

His crimes came to light when he sold an old computer in 2005 to a woman and her son through eBay.

The woman’s son found two video files still on the computer’s hard drive, showing underage girls undressing, seemingly without their knowledge. They contacted the FBI.

“I wish I could tell you why I did these things, but I can’t,” Hindson said in his statement.

He said all he could tie his behavior to was a desire to “be in charge.”

“I wanted to be in control, but I didn’t know how to control this behavior. I didn’t know that I needed help. I never asked for help,” he said.

The reality of what he’d done, he said, hit him when he returned home the evening before his Feb. 6 arrest to find messages on his phone. He inferred the messages were his first indication he was about to be charged with serious crimes.

Kokomo police searched the Memorial Gym locker room on Tuesday, Feb. 5, and that same evening, Hindson was served with a verbal “no trespass” order from then-KCS superintendent Tom Little.

The next morning, Hindson’s Carmel apartment was searched, revealing a stash of child pornography, and he was arrested.

He apologized Friday to his victims, their families and his own family. Very few, if any, members of the victims’ families attended the sentencing. Members of Hindson’s own family fought back tears as he was led away, shackled.

“Not a single day passes when I don’t think of the hurt I’ve caused you. I know I’ll never see any of you again, so this is my only opportunity to say I’m sorry,” Hindson said.

“I offer no excuses, nor do I expect forgiveness from any of you.”

His attorney, Gregg Stark, asked McKinney to sentence Hindson to the minimum sentence available under the plea agreement Hindson signed in July.

In return for pleading guilty to all 16 felony counts, Hindson accepted a sentence of between 25 and 35 years in prison.

Stark argued McKinney should consider Hindson’s remorse, which led to an immediate admission of guilt after Hindson’s arrest. Stark also noted Hindson’s lack of a criminal history, and said his coaching and mentoring had helped more than 100 of his former swimmers find college scholarships.

“You have in effect a defendant who has done everything he can possibly do to accept responsibility and spare the victims a trial,” Stark said.

“Any place other than federal court, [Hindson] would not be facing the sentence he’s facing,” Stark said in asking for a 25-year sentence. “In some instances, you could murder someone and not get as much time.”

But McKinney sided with arguments made by U.S. Department of Justice attorney Bonnie L. Kane, of the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.

“For nearly 10 years, he used cameras to [videotape] both children and adults,” Kane said. “And the fact he doesn’t have a prior criminal history is only because he wasn’t caught.

“This was a long and persistent pattern of criminal activity, an appalling violation of the trust of his students,” she said.

“The girls have suffered substantial emotional harm, and will continue to suffer significant trust issues,” she said. “He was like a second dad in some ways.”

McKinney, in his prologue to pronouncing the sentence, said the specifics of Hindson’s crimes were “particularly reprehensible.”

Federal sentencing guidelines, McKinney said, would ordinarily recommend a life sentence, based on the evidence.

McKinney also turned Stark’s testimony of Hindson’s willingness to mentor young swimmers on its head.

“You can persuade for the good. You can persuade others to do better. But this same character you’ve turned into this criminal behavior. It allowed you to go behind everyone’s back,” McKinney said.

“[You were] using your position as coach and friend to manipulate these children into your scheme, so you could put their pictures on the Internet and chat with your buddies,” McKinney said, explaining why he wouldn’t consider the lower end of the sentencing guidelines.

Hindson victimized more individuals than anyone else prosecuted for similar crimes at Indianapolis’ federal courthouse in the past 18 years, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D. DeBrota.

The case was prosecuted by DeBrota and Kane, and was investigated by the FBI’s Cyber Crime Task Force and the Kokomo Police Department, with additional assistance from the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Hamilton County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Westfield Police Department, the Carmel Police Department, the Special Investigations Section of the Indiana State Police and the Fishers Police Department.

Scott Smith may be reached at (765) 454-8569 or by e-mail at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com

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