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Reports of Child Porn, Failed Polygraph Emerge in Barber Case

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The legal wrangling over Ed Barber's pretrial motions Monday provided few details surrounding the former county supervisor's arrest and conviction of sexual battery against his teenage stepdaughter in December 2005.

But a few morsels of evidence — such as police's alleged discovery of 44 images of child pornography on his computer and his failing a polygraph test Aug. 14, 2006 — offer a powerful glimpse into the things to come.

Barber, the former chairman of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors and longtime elementary school teacher, has maintained his innocence throughout — even as he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of sexual battery.

As it moves from criminal court to civil, the case becomes an open book. Barber's victim was a juvenile, 16 at the time of the assault, so most of the details have been kept under lock and key to protect the identity of the victim.

But that promises to change in the coming months. By the time the trial starts, Barber's victim will be 18, says Michael J. Sharman, an attorney representing the victim, who is suing Barber for $7.35 million. Sharman says he expects she will be able to take the stand to testify against her stepfather.

At the July 2 hearing lawyers began sorting through what evidence would likely be introduced in an upcoming trial and how much of the police investigation would be suppressed. Aside from a few blacked-out names of minors, probably not much, Chesterfield Circuit Court Judge Michael Allen seemed to suggest.

Barber wasn't in the courtroom. A county attorney showed up with the police file — minus a copy of the hardware from two computers seized from Barber's home — and promised to provide all the evidence to the court within the week.

Allen threw out Sharman's motion for summary judgment, which contended Barber had already conceded guilt by pleading guilty to the two misdemeanors. So the case moves into the phase of trying the original case, to some extent, in a courtroom open to the public.

Perhaps the first big bombshell: After Barber's conviction, he failed a polygraph test (a condition of his probation) administered by a polygrapher who specializes in sexual-offense cases. Apparently, Barber did not admit to committing the crime to sexual-offense counselors or to the polygrapher. Barber was asked, point-blank, if he committed the sexual assault Dec. 26, 2005. He responded "no."

The polygrapher, in his report, says Barber's response was "clearly deceptive."

In court, Barber's attorney, William W. Tunner, says he spoke with his client about the polygraph results. "He denies it," Tunner told the court, regardless of the test results.

The 44 images of "child pornography" were found on "his computer" according to the sexual offense counseling report, which Sharman obtained through subpoena. It was based on evidence supplied by police investigators. Consider Pandora's box officially ajar. S

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