Patrick J. O'Malley, 50, used to be the county recorder for Cuyahoga until a 2004 investigation. Officials obtained a search warrant and entered his home as part of divorce proceedings between O'Malley and his wife.
At the time, officials said they were looking for child porn on O'Malley's computer. They found pornography, but it involved only adults.
An official report said that the adult content found on O'Malley's compute "portrays a sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence."
O'Malley's attorney, Ian Friedman, said that the adult content found on O'Malley's computer "crosses the line."
Free Speech Coalition Chairman Jeffrey Douglas told XBIZ that this case shouldn't have much affect on the adult industry.
"By no means should anyone derive from this that the federal government has an agenda against BDSM," he said, adding that the federal government had pursued "very few" prosecutions against content in the BDSM or sado-masochistic genre.
At the same time, Douglas lamented O'Malley's guilty plea.
"It's a tragedy for [O'Malley]," Douglas said. "Personal possession of obscene material is not a crime. Even assuming that the material was exceptional in some way, it is very defensible."
Douglas noted that typically a defendant has to sell or transport obscene material in order for an action to be deemed a federal offense. Online reports indicate no such behavior by O'Malley.
U.S. District Judge David Dowd gave O'Malley the chance to change his initial guilty plea because Dowd had not told O'Malley everything about his initial plea agreement. O'Malley decided to keep the same plea.
The judge will hand down O'Malley's sentence on Oct. 3 in Akron, Ohio. When sentenced, O'Malley faces anywhere from six to 18 months in prison.
According to a local news report, O'Malley has since taken a job at an insurance company.