STOCK PIX Linn County Courthouse

A 20-year-old Scio man was convicted of possessing child pornography and was sentenced to 20 days in jail and three years of supervised probation on Friday afternoon in Linn County Circuit Court.

Johnathan Cameron Ralston pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree encouraging child sex abuse as part of a negotiated settlement.

The sentence was less than usual for the crimes, but the prosecution and defense agreed that a treatment program would be more effective than prison in reducing recidivism.

If Ralston violates the terms of his probation, however, he will be sent to prison for four-and-a-half years.

“Obviously, this is all designed to create a very short leash for this man, who is lucky to avoid a prison sentence,” Prosecutor Keith Stein said.

“It’s our intent to create the strictest, most intensive form of supervision that we can,” he added, later in the hearing.

Financial hardship, or an inability to pay for the treatment program, will not be excuse, Judge David Delsman stressed.

“There’s 18 months in prison on each of these counts hanging over your head,” Delsman said.

The crimes occurred between April 2016 to May of 2017. Stein said Ralston uploaded a “slough” of child pornography images to a Dropbox account. The company discovered the transgressions, suspended his account and alerted the FBI, Stein added.

The FBI investigated briefly and alerted the Linn County Sheriff’s Office. A local forensics investigator discovered that even after the Dropbox suspension, Ralston had continued to download child pornography, Stein said. Linn County also found an image of animal sex abuse, according to the prosecution.

Ralston fully cooperated with authorities.

He must register as a sex offender, and cannot use computers, smartphones or even have Internet access except for work-related tasks.

Ralston also is prohibited from unsupervised contact with minors.

10 other charges were dismissed as part of the plea deal.

Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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