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Martin Peterson pleads guilty to 2 child porn charges, faces 20 years in prison

Martin Peterson pleads guilty to 2 child porn charges, faces 20 years in prison

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BOISE — Longtime Idaho political fixture Martin L. “Marty” Peterson, 76, pleaded guilty Thursday to two felony counts of child pornography possession in a deal with prosecutors that led to the dismissal of 12 other charges.

Both crimes Peterson pleaded to took place between January 2015 and October 2019, and involved the sexual exploitation of a child, according to court records. The children in some images were as young as 8, prosecutors said.

Fourth District Judge Lynn G. Norton ordered a presentencing investigation, a substance abuse evaluation and a pyschosexual evaluation to be conducted before Peterson’s sentencing, which is set for April 16 at 10:30 a.m. Each child porn count Peterson pleaded guilty to is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Peterson, 76, was first arrested last October after investigators executed a search warrant at his Boise home. He initially was charged with three felony counts of viewing/accessing sexually explicit images of minors between Jan. 1, 2018 and Oct. 3, 2019. Prosecutors on Dec. 17 filed an amended complaint charging Peterson with a total of 14 felony counts of viewing/accessing sexually explicit images of minors.

Some of the images Peterson allegedly accessed online involved sexual acts with children 3 and younger, authorities said earlier this month.

Peterson was a figure in Idaho politics for five decades. He served on U.S. Sen. Frank Church’s staff, on former Gov. Butch Otter’s transition team, as the executive director of the Association of Idaho Cities and on the Idaho Humanities Council, per his page on the Idaho Humanities Council website. He was also the budget director for former Govs. John Evans and Cecil Andrus, and has served as an assistant to several University of Idaho presidents.

Peterson, a Lewiston native and University of Idaho graduate, has served on U of I’s School of Journalism and Mass Media advisory board, the Friends of Idaho Public Television board and as the president for the Foundation for Idaho History. He also was the director of U of I’s James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research.

Peterson was a longtime community member of the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board and contributed many columns. He was removed from the board temporarily when first arrested and subsequently resigned.

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