A Warrenton man arrested for possessing hundreds of photos of child pornography was convicted Wednesday in Clatsop County Circuit Court.

Visiting judge George VanHoomisen found Andrew W. Betnar, 42, guilty of 199 counts of encouraging child sexual abuse. He faces sentencing March 1.

Betnar was arrested in 2003 after police serving a search warrant on his home found more than 400 sexually explicit photographs of children on compact discs in his Warrenton residence as well as in a storage unit. Betnar operated Oregon and Costa Rica Adventures fishing guide services in Warrenton.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Brown said Betnar downloaded the pictures from the Internet and burned them onto the CDs. Most of the pictures showed children engaging in sexual acts with other children and adults, he said.

Encouraging child sexual abuse is not a Measure 11 offense but does carry a potential sentence of up to 18 months in prison per count and a $250,000 fine, Brown said. "He could be looking at several years in prison," he said.

The crime has become "rampant" with the easy availability of such material on the Internet, Brown said. Just possessing such pictures is considered second-degree encouraging sexual abuse - copying the material makes it a first-degree crime.

Police and prosecutors take an aggressive approach to the crime because those who buy and look at such material create the demand that leads to the abuse in the photos, Brown said.

"If not for guys like Mr. Betnar, there would not be a demand for this stuff," he said.

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