Former Ann Arbor real estate broker admits to possessing child pornography
A former Ann Arbor real estate broker accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in a Canadian park in 1992 pleaded guilty today to a federal charge of possessing child pornography at his Scio Township home, court records show.
Richard Fabian, 64, made the plea in federal court in Detroit and had been set to go to trial on the charges Nov. 29. He still faces charges in the Canadian case, which is pending.
The indictment, filed in April, accused Fabian of possessing "a computer, computer media and VHS tapes containing still and video images that depict child pornography." Court records say the child pornography dates back more than 20 years and includes still photos he allegedly processed himself, videotapes and other images.
Fabian's attorney, Ray Cassar, could not immediately be reached for comment this evening. But he told the Detroit Free Press Fabian "truly wanted to do the right thing."
“This is something that has been ongoing for two years. It’s been weighing heavily on his mind. He wanted to accept responsibility for his actions, which he did," Cassar told the Free Press.
Fabian, who remains free on $100,000 unsecured bond, will be sentenced March 10 before Judge Robert Cleland. The maximum sentence is 10 years in prison.
The case was investigated by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Michigan State Police. ATF Agent Donald Dawkins, a spokesman for the Detroit office, said authorities were satisfied with the guilty plea.
"We felt confident going to trial, but we got what we wanted with the plea," Dawkins said tonight. "We believe he will serve substantial time, as he should."
Authorities said the Canadian case is still pending, and that trial is set for November 2011. If convicted in Canada, he's expected to face 14 to 25 years in prison.
The federal charges in the U.S. were levied after a computer and other media were seized when authorities searched Fabian's home in February 2009 in connection with the case in Canada. Fabian's attorney earlier argued to have the evidence thrown out, saying police didn't have probable cause to search his home, but a judge upheld the search warrant.
Fabian is accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in a Canadian park while an accomplice videotaped it more than 17 years ago. He is charged with sexual assault, corrupting morals and sexual interference with a person under 14.
Officials said the video surfaced after police began investigating Clinton resident Gerald Morgan on child pornography charges in 2007. Morgan moved from his home in Lenawee County that year and left a box of items — including pornography — behind, police said. Morgan was sentenced to serve nearly 13 years in prison on convictions for child pornography and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Police said Fabian sexually assaulted the 13-year-old girl in 1992 while Morgan videotaped it.
Authorities have accused Fabian and Morgan of seeking out their victims at photo shoots, events and public places frequented by female children, dating as far back as the early 1980s. In court documents, Morgan said he and Fabian exchanged pornographic images and videos, including ones of young females taken at topless beaches and resorts. Morgan also told investigators Fabian liked to look into young girls' windows at night, documents state.
Fabian's business, Fabian Realty, was located across from Michigan Stadium, but closed in 2009 after he was charged in Canada.
Court records also show Fabian was twice investigated by police in the past. In 1976, he was accused of exposing himself to three 7-year-old girls in Ann Arbor. And in 1984, he was accused of sending multiple pornographic images of a 12-year-old girl to an undercover Indiana State Police trooper. The federal court documents do not indicate whether he was charged or convicted in those cases.