As Judge Kelley Kostin of the Oakland County Courthouse near Detroit read the 54-year-old reality star his sentence, he fought to keep in his tears.
Before the sentencing, the prosecutor on the case said: “I think he is a threat. We are asking for the maximum sentence.”
“The children in these videos and images were exploited, and each time the images were shared and viewed continued their suffering,” Bill Schuette, the Michigan Attorney General said after the conviction. “My hope is that today’s conviction will bring some closure to the families and the children that are victims in this case.”
Skupin has been sentenced to prison as well as paying $31,800 in restitution and several thousand in court fees. He also will be forced to serve four years of probation on a theft charge.
When the case was taken to court, Skupin pleaded not guilty to all 11 charges of child pornography and racketeering. In November, he was convicted on four counts of child porn.
In regards to the count of larceny by conversion, Skupin pleaded no contest.
The investigation was first launched after several people claimed that Skupin's company Pay It Forward was running a gifting scheme. While looking at Skupin's computer, the police discovered child porn.
Despite being found guilty, Skupin told the court on Tuesday that he was innocent.
“I maintain that I didn’t do it,” he said. “That’s all I maintain. There were hundreds of people who had access to my computer. I have 11 children who I’m raising, and I have about $1000 a month in child support. There’s so much fallout that would result in me going away.”
On Monday night, Skupin delivered a statement to try and plead his case.
The statement he gave to People read:
I’m sorry if I did anything wrong, I really thought I was helping people through a business I took over called Pay It Forward.
I took the plea on that charge because I had lost faith in our justice system. I lost that faith when a jury of strangers said “probably” and found me guilty of possession of child porn. I did not look at or download anything on my computer that could have been considered anything even close to child porn.
Keep in mind, my conviction was based on temporary internet files created by my computer, the internet. The computer forensics expert for the state admitted that this was on every computer in America and you don’t even know it’s there. I got scared and took a plea, paid a bulk of restitution by selling my remaining possessions.
I maintain my innocence — I will continue this fight for as long as I breathe for all the people that are feel that they have to take pleas out of fear and who’s lives are forever altered by a system where sensationalized and untruthful media plays too big of a role which creates bias unfair judgements and allows for people to consider personal gains instead of justice. The camera is rolling; what can you get from it?
This world can be hateful, unkind, and the media can be outright cruel and dishonest. The masses judge and relish in the sensationalism — and the very few give truth and love.
No matter what happens, I’m choosing to remain kind. I’m choosing forgiveness. I’m choosing love.
Skupin appeared on two seasons of the reality TV show including Survivor: The Australian Outback and in Survivor: Philippines.