INDIANAPOLIS - A Noblesville man has been sentenced to federal prison for hiding a camera in a local bathroom frequented by children, months after the Call 6 Investigators first reported on his crimes.
Justin Allen Briggs, 28, was sentenced on Thursday to 15 years in federal prison after admitting to the felony crime of sexual exploitation of a minor.
"I know there is no excuse for my actions," Briggs told the judge as he was pleading guilty to the crime.
Wearing shackles around his waist, he looked down toward the floor as he told the judge that he wanted to apologize for violating the privacy of one teenage victim.
The Call 6 Investigators first reported in January that Briggs' wife at the time stumbled upon four videos and 75 photographs that were taken from a hidden camera in a bathroom frequented by children. The wife, who has since divorced him, said she was using her husband's work computer to print a document as he was away, and she immediately took the computer to the Noblesville police station to turn him in.
Police seized the computer with the images and arrested Briggs, despite his sending text messages to his then-wife begging, "Please don't do this."
Other text messages read, "I've ruined someones life and mine" and "im sorry im a monster."
In court on Thursday, Briggs insisted that, "I am not a career criminal," as he asked a judge to limit the term in which he would be required to register as a sex offender after his release from prison.
His court-appointed defense attorney told the judge that his client's actions were influenced by heavy daily doses of cocaine and the painkiller Oxycodone.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt handed down the 15 year prison term and required Briggs to register as a sex offender under "supervised release" restrictions for 10 years after his release from prison. She also imposed a $2,000 fine, which could end up being paid to one young victim in the case.
That victim took the witness stand and said, "As a 15-year-old girl, I went through something no one should have to go through."
She said she wasn't asking for pity or attention.
"Mr. Briggs ruined my life," she testified, adding that she had to change schools because, "Everyone blamed me" for what happened.
While reading her prepared remarks, she started crying and told the judge she was unable to continue reading. She was seated in the witness stand, just 6 feet away from where Briggs sat shackled by the ankles and wrists.
A federal prosecutor then asked her permission to read the rest of her prepared remarks to the judge.
Her letter said that she was afraid to take showers for a full week after the camera was discovered, afraid that she was somehow still being watched.
Her letter read, "I am scarred, not broken," and she wrote that she remains scared because the "memory haunts me."
The prosecutor also pointed out that the sentence, which was part of a plea bargain, was appropriate because Briggs admitted his crimes and because none of the images or videos was ever shared with anyone over the Internet.
Through his attorney, Briggs asked for supervised release restrictions to be imposed for only five years, with the attorney calling the nature of his crimes a "one-time event."
The judge ended up doubling those restrictions to 10 years, saying Briggs abused the trust of the victim's family in order to place the hidden camera in the first place.
When Briggs was first arrested, the victim's mother told the Call 6 Investigators that Briggs "should be in jail forever. Because, I mean, if you can do it to one, you can do it to more. If I didn't turn him in for this, he could have done it to somebody else."
After his release from prison, Briggs will be barred from possessing any pornography and his computer use will be monitored by federal probation officers, using a monitoring program that can randomly or frequently report his online behavior to authorities.