Man accused of crimes against minors faces life sentence - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Man accused of crimes against minors faces possible life sentence

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John Przenkop (source: Muscogee County Jail) John Przenkop (source: Muscogee County Jail)
(WTVM) -

A man who has been free on bond for over three years was ordered by a federal judge Friday to stay behind bars until his trial.

John Przenkop, 46, originally arrested by Columbus Police in 2010, is accused of producing child pornography and soliciting two girls under the age of 18.

Authorities say he met the girls on a social networking site and convinced them to engage in sexual acts for money. 

At his arraignment, Friday, Przenkop pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Earlier this week, Przenkop was arrested by FBI agents and his case was moved from state to federal court.  He is currently being held in the Lee County Detention Facility.

His defense attorney, John Martin, argued Przenkop should be allowed to stay free on bond because he has fulfilled his obligations to the state over the past three years.

"I thought, based on his history of having been out for three years that he was not a risk and he was not a danger, based on his three years of satisfactory bond compliance, but the judge found otherwise," said Martin.

Judge Stephen Hyles ruled in favor of keeping Przenkop in custody, deciding that the charges he faces now carry higher penalties than before.  He said federal guidelines consider crimes against minors to be on the same level of severity as offenses related to terrorism.

Przenkop is currently accused of five crimes against two victims. A conviction on the most serious charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. 

John Martin, of the Martin Law Firm, believes the nature of the offenses his client is accused of fall under the least serious end of the spectrum when it comes to crimes against minors.

Martin explains why he believes there is some gray area surrounding the crimes and the background of the teenage victims. 

 "Even the government doesn't dispute that these girls were charged with prostitution and that they were willing participants and were acting as prostitutes.  Then their mothers tried to extort money from Mr. Przenkop and they were found guilty of a felony extortion count in superior court," said Martin.

Martin said his client is the person who brought the entire case to the attention of authorities when he complained the alleged victims' parents were demanding money to stay quiet.  He also asserts that Przenkop did not know the true age of the victims when the alleged criminal acts occurred.

"You don't always ask for identification or birth certificates or driver's license from people with whom you are involved in a sexual relationship.  In this case, they represented their age as something, and apparently, it was a different age," said Martin.

The defense argues the victims were very close to being the legal age and at the time of these incidents in February, 2010, were right at the cut-off for being considered adults.

ALSO READ: Feds: Columbus man molested teens he found on social networking sites

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