Former Knox County clerk sentenced to 8 years for sexual exploitation of a minor

Joshua Ryan Fettig (Knox County)
Joshua Ryan Fettig (Knox County)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A former clerk who used a computer in the Knox County Judicial Commissioner’s office to email child pornography was sentenced to eight years.

Joshua Ryan Fettig, 22, pled guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor. He must serve 100 percent of the eight year sentence, according to the Knox County District Attorney’s Office.

On December 7, 2013, Knoxville Police Department said they received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that someone attempted to send five emails containing images of child pornography through a Knox County IP address. Investigators and the Knox County IT department determined the computer was located in the judicial commissioner’s office

Surveillance video records showed Fettig accessing the office at the time the emails containing child pornography were sent. Fettig was employed as a clerk who assisted with issuing criminal warrants at the time.

Investigators searched other computers belonging to Fettig and discovered over three hundred images of child pornography. Those images were sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children who were able to match photographs to 20 different cases of child rape or exploitation.

“The most vulnerable victims we encounter are children,” said Knox County District Attorney Charme Allen. “In addition to being victimized during the production of child pornography, each time an image of child pornography is viewed or downloaded, that child is further victimized.”

During the plea hearing, prosecutors submitted victim impact statement from one of the known victims who explained how the crime affected her life:

I live everyday with the horrible knowledge that many people somewhere are watching the most terrifying moments of my life and taking grotesque pleasure in them. I am a victim of the worst kind of exploitation: child porn. Unlike other forms of exploitation, this one is never ending. Everyday, people are trading and sharing videos of me as a little girl being raped in the most sadistic ways. They don’t know me, but they have seen every part of me. They are being entertained by my shame and pain.

My world came crashing down the day I learned that pictures of me being sexually abused had been circulated on the internet. Since then, little has changed except my understanding that the distribution of these pictures grows bigger and bigger by the day and there is nothing I can do about it. The enormity of this has added to my grief and pain, and given me a paranoia. I wonder if the people I know have seen these images. I wonder if the men I pass in the grocery store have seen them. I feel totally out of control. They are trading around my trauma like treats at a party and it feels like I am being raped all over again by every one of them. It sickens me to the core, terrifies me and makes me want to cry. So many nights I have cried myself to sleep thinking of a stranger somewhere staring at their computer with images of a naked me on the screen. I have nightmares about it often. i can never feel safe so long as my images are out there; every time they are downloaded I am exploited again, my privacy is breached, and I feel in danger again. I fear that any of them may try to find me and do something to me.

I have a right to know who has my pictures and who is trading them. While it hurts to know, not knowing makes me feel more in danger. To be criticized for wanting to know what is going on with the humiliating pictures of me, to exercise the few rights I have under the law, only makes the hurt that much worse. How can such people not understand, or care?

I am justified in my paranoia. Some of these perverts have contacted me. I have received emails suggesting making porn with these strangers; one has stalked me. Another created a slideshow of me on YouTube.

As I go on with my life the effects of these crimes still hurt me and I hope the court and every one involved will understand this and how serious it is. While the cause from [redacted] was awful, as time goes on that is farther and farther away from me. He is in jail and can never hurt me. That is over. The men that downloaded my pictures are all around me for all I know and it will keep going on forever. I have no control over it at all. This is frightening, beyond belief.

I still have nightmares that come from knowing that pictures of me are spread around the internet by people with perverted interests in my pain. I have panic attacks and flashbacks. I can’t sleep a lot of nights — no matter how early I go to bed or how early I wake up in the morning. Even if I’ve barely slept for days and I’m exhausted, sleep doesn’t come easy. I take afternoon naps just to function, but something about the night time puts my mind on alert and after all these years and going to different counselors, I still haven’t learned the trick to let my mind rest. When I do sleep, my dreams are vivid and I remember them for weeks. A common theme is finding myself naked in front of a crowd of people or in an enclosed space and I can’t escape or run away fast enough.

Most days I can put away the thoughts of the previous night and function okay, but some days I get “stuck” and zone out. When this happens, I sit in the same spot motionless for a long time. My mind will come back at some point later in the day, maybe 30 minutes later or maybe six hours later. I can’t remember what I did during that time, but I look around my apartment for clues. This happens a few days out of the month, more frequently if I’m under a lot of stress.

I’ve left my home in this “zoned-out” state of mind a few times. Friend and family who’ve seen me in this state describe me as “loopy” and tell me that they can talk me out of it by pointing out my odd behavior and talking me through some deep breaths. they’ve told me my personality changes when this happens. I can’t remember things I’ve said in that state, and when they repeat them back to me it’s really surprising.

I have struggled off and on with this, which I now know is called dissociating. This last year I felt under such stress, I started zoning out (Or dissociating) a few times a week and having the personality issues so bad that my friends were really concerned about me. They kept telling me I wasn’t acting normally, especially at night. I had missed a lot of the first two weeks of school, so I had the added stress of trying to catch up. I felt like I couldn’t control it. I never knew when I was going to zone out and I kept missing classes and appointments. It seems crazy, but it took me a long time to recognize what was going on and had to get myself to start working my coping skills again.

School has been a struggle. I have had to quit two different times; I cannot attend a regular college away from home due to my paranoia. Over the last year I have been dissociated and missing classes. This puts me behind and hurts my grades. I’m doing my best to salvage my grade and do all the extra credit I can to compensate. My struggles with sleep due to the fear of the unknown people watching my images and coming after me compounds all the other problems. it frustrates me, because I hate the feeling of being out of control, yet these effects can get triggered when I least expect it.

My paranoia about pornography and panic attacks have so far made a serious relationship beyond my capabilities. The paranoia of knowing people are viewing videos of me messes with my mind and adds a back burner type of stress to my life constantly that is brought to the front of my mind by unexpected situations and still throws me for a loop, the episodes of disassociation and personality change and stress management. Many of my PTSD symptoms have gotten better. One thing that has gotten worse is that the stress affects my health and makes me sick. I sometimes stress out to the point of not being able to keep food down for days. It also seems to wear down immune system because I seem to be getting sick more often. In my efforts to counteract this, I try to work on going regular exercise, eating healthy, and taking vitamins every day.

I want you to know that dealing with the effects of the stress of random men looking at pictures of my sex abuse as a child is like a full time job that wears me down and colors every aspect of my life. Please think of me and what I am going through.

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