Skip to content

A Longmont woman was sentenced Friday to jail and community corrections in her child pornography case.

Julie Ann Cunningham, 55, pleaded guilty in January to sexual exploitation of a child – more than 20 items and unlawful sexual contact.

On Friday, Boulder District Court Judge Andrew Hartman sentenced Cunningham to six months in jail followed by a six-year community corrections sentence. Cunningham, who appeared at the courthouse for the hearing, was remanded into custody following the hearing.

“This is the type of conduct that impacts thousands of children, maybe more than thousands of children, abroad and even here in the U.S.,” Hartman said of the child pornography industry. “It’s people like Ms. Cunningham that support this industry.”

According to an arrest affidavit, police received a tip about Cunningham in 2018 through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In the tip, a man sent authorities Facebook messages from Cunningham, one of which included an image of an underage girl posing naked.

Longmont police executed a search warrant at Cunningham’s home and seized 28 electronic devices. Once granted a search warrant to search the devices, police looked through Cunningham’s cellphone and found nearly 150 photos that qualified as “child exploitative images,” according to the affidavit.

Police also found 73 possible child exploitative photos, in which they could not determine the subjects’ ages due to the camera angle and lighting. They also found 54 images of child erotica and 17 photos depicting bestiality, some of which showed bestiality with children, according to the affidavit.

Police also scanned the phone for videos and found 93 videos that qualified as child exploitative images, as well as six bestiality videos, according to the affidavit. There were also sexual photos and videos of Cunningham found on the phone’s SD card.

Boulder Chief Trial Deputy District Attorney Catrina Weigel also noted that in addition to having all of the images and videos, Cunningham was sharing them with others.

“She was not only downloading if for her own viewing, but she was distributing it to others,” Weigel said. “Every time these images are shared it serves to revictimize (the victims.)”

Weigel also said police believe Cunningham had sex with a 16-year-old boy. Weigel said prosecutors did not file charges in the case because the boy said he was 19, but Hartman agreed it was a concern.

“That’s another aggravating issue that many offenders of child pornography do not cross,” Hartman said.

Cunningham’s defense attorney Nicole Collins said Cunningham herself was a victim of sexual abuse as a young child.

“That trauma has an impact on people,” Collins said.

Cunningham spoke at the hearing and apologized for her actions and expressed a desire for treatment.

“I do feel a lot of remorse for what I’ve done, and I know I’ve hurt a lot of children by distributing what I have,” Cunningham said. “I’d like the chance to be able to move forward with more treatment, and I do want to get better.”

While Collins asked for work release followed by probation, Weigel asked for a community corrections sentence. While she agreed a prison sentence would not get Cunningham the treatment she needed, Weigel said a community corrections sentence that could be converted into a prison sentence if she failed to comply was an option that provided treatment but also some security.

“I want her to know that if she does mess up or she doesn’t follow through … she could go to prison,” Weigel said.

Hartman agreed that probation did not take into account community safety as well as a punitive sanction, and went with Weigel’s recommendation.

“I hope that the defendant can take advantage and succeed in community corrections and be safely released into the community,” Hartman said. “If she fails at community corrections, then her sentence is converted into a Department of Corrections sentence.”

Join the Conversation

We invite you to use our commenting platform to engage in insightful conversations about issues in our community. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us, and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy the law, regulation, or government request. We might permanently block any user who abuses these conditions.