A Lakewood man who was a fixture at City Council meetings for years and frustrated officials by requesting tens of thousands of pages of city documents has pleaded guilty to indecent exposure but will not see jail time.
Pierce County prosecutors charged Fredric R. Cornell, 67, with four felony counts of first-degree possession of child pornography in April 2011. A computer specialist hired by Cornell’s then-wife unearthed the images while looking for “hidden assets” after the couple separated, court records say. Their divorce was finalized last month.
Cornell pleaded guilty May 3 to the single felony in order to avoid probable conviction for a greater offense. He maintained his innocence in court papers and wrote that he was pleading guilty to a “legal fiction.” He did acknowledge that after reviewing the state’s evidence there was a “substantial likelihood” a jury would convict him on the original charges. Such a conviction would have carried a harsher sentence.
Cornell declined to comment on the case when reached by phone Thursday other than to reiterate that he pleaded guilty to a fictitious charge.
He also alleged the case represented “collusion” involving the City of Lakewood to stop him from filing public document requests.
City Manager Andrew Neiditz wrote in an email that the case was the result of Cornell’s doing, not the city’s.
“Cornell’s delusions about City of Lakewood conspiracies are not new, and have no basis in reality,” Neiditz wrote.
In 2009, Cornell requested nearly 78,000 pages of documents, prompting Lakewood officials to ask the Legislature to change the rules for frequent users of the open records law.
Cornell has said he did it to keep tabs on a young city that is prone to make mistakes and spend money unwisely. City officials have argued his requests were mostly fishing expeditions to dig up dirt on city employees.
Cornell hasn’t filed a document request since December 2010, according to the city. A regular observer of Lakewood City Council meetings, where he often dressed as an Anglican priest, he hasn’t attended since.
Cornell was sentenced to a year of community custody and must pay $1,200 in court costs. He must submit to a psychosexual evaluation and comply with follow-up treatment. He can have no contact with minors and cannot access or possess any kind of pornography.christian.hill @thenewstribune.com 253-274-739 @TNTchill