REDWOOD CITY -- After quick deliberations, a jury found former San Mateo County Probation Chief Stuart Forrest guilty Friday of two felony charges of child pornography possession.
Forrest, 61, who has been out on bail, was not immediately taken into custody. But he faces up to three years and eight months in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 20, said Karen Guidotti, the county's chief deputy district attorney.
Defense attorney Jaime Leanos thought the jury, which began deliberating Thursday afternoon, was likely swayed by seeing some disturbing images and hearing about a suicide attempt Forrest made after the photos were discovered.
"I think they convicted an innocent man," Leanos said.
During a weeklong trial, the jury heard state deputy attorney general Johnette Jauron call Forrest a "collector of pornography," with more than 470 digital images and several videos of naked boys. And they heard from Forrest himself, who testified that he obtained the material for work-related research.
Forrest retired in December after investigators raided his home in Tracy and his parent's home in San Mateo. His name, address and credit card number had turned up in a U.S. Postal Inspection Service probe into a company that distributes videos depicting child pornography.
The ex-probation chief admitted Wednesday during cross-examination that he lied to detectives Dec. 20 when he claimed he hadn't ordered the films. He testified that he attempted suicide later that day, figuring his career was ruined. Sheriff's deputies found him before he could act and shocked him with a Taser.
"I had been going through a miserable existence since 2008 and was sensing no relief," Forrest told the San Mateo County Superior Court jury. "And this was the capper."
Before the Dec. 20 suicide attempt, investigators watched Forrest drive away from his parent's home carrying a bag, according to a U.S. Postal Inspection Service report. They later found a computer with its hard drive removed. Forrest testified he had previously dropped it off for recycling because it was corrupted.
Forrest also told the jury that he had searched for child pornography and ordered the videos to help his department develop a system for detecting human trafficking, including children exploited for pornography. He said he became interested in the subject after attending a conference hosted by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, around 2009.
Forrest has been referred to the Santa Clara County Probation Department for a sentencing report, Guidotti said.
Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at Twitter.com/kinneytimes.