Psychiatrist David Israelstam sentenced to prison for child pornography
November 4, 2013
Former Madison psychiatrist David M. Israelstam, 74, was sentenced to 1½ years in prison Thursday for possessing child pornography.
A former Madison psychiatrist who amassed a cache of child pornography at his home, his office and in his car, and admitted to sex with patients, was sentenced Thursday to 1½ years in prison.
David M. Israelstam, 74, told Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke that he has had “a significant problem with sexual addiction that’s been with me for most of my adult life.”
But he said his viewing of child pornography, and his “boundary violations” with patients were “wrong and illegal.”
“I wish that I could turn back the clock and make better decisions,” Israelstam said. “I am sorry.”
Israelstam, who was reprimanded twice by state licensing authorities for past inappropriate behavior with patients, was charged in February with possessing child pornography, which was found after a computer technician and former patient discovered videos that appeared to have been covertly recorded by Israel-
stam showing him having sex with adult women in his office.
Police searched Israelstam’s home and office in October 2011 and found dozens of binders of child pornography along with digital images on various storage media.
Israelstam pleaded guilty in July to two counts of possessing child pornography, under a plea agreement that also allowed Ehlke to consider his sexual conduct with patients when sentencing him.
One former longtime patient of Israelstam who spoke in court told Ehlke that she was being treated for childhood sexual abuse and was a subject of photographs not unlike those found in Israelstam’s possession. She said Israelstam knew this about her, and she said she felt horror and devastation at learning about his crimes.
“This is a big betrayal,” she said, “a huge, huge betrayal.”
Deputy District Attorney Thomas Fallon, who began his argument by reading the Hippocratic Oath, recommended that Israelstam spend six years in prison — three years for each count. He argued that punishment should be the primary sentencing consideration, and said the sentence would deter others.
“Every time child pornography is downloaded or traded we have a continued revictimization of the children who are victimized,” he said.
But Israelstam’s lawyer, Tim Verhoff, said six years would be a life sentence for someone Israelstam’s age. He recommended 10 years of probation, some of which would be served in jai.
Under the law in effect at the time of Israelstam’s crimes, judges were to sentence defendants to at least three years in prison unless good cause could be shown that sentencing less would not harm the public and would not depreciate the seriousness of the crime.
The Legislature has since made three years a mandatory minimum sentence. After serving time in prison, Israelstam will be on extended supervision for 3½ years, then on probation for another seven years. He also will be a registered sex offender.
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