BOSTON — A decade after he appeared in Orleans District Court for sexual conduct towards a teenaged boy, Kerry Adams, 61, of Provincetown pleaded guilty in federal court on April 20 to distribution, receipt, and possession of child pornography.
Adams was voluntarily detained in October 2019 after the culmination of what a Dept. of Justice press release called a several-months-long “investigation of individuals using peer-to-peer networks for the trafficking of child pornography.”
Peer-to-peer networks allow users to connect their computers and share resources — like specific folders or files — often anonymously, without passing those resources through a centralized server. Peer-to-peer networks are “the main trading platform” for child pornography today, according to a 2014 report by Thorn, a tech foundation trying to eliminate child sexual abuse from the internet.
During their investigation, agents downloaded child pornography materials four times from a computer they traced to Adams’s residence, the press release said. When investigators searched his home, they seized his laptops, thumb drives, and SD cards. On the scene, they found files containing child pornography on one of his laptops. A subsequent forensic analysis, the press release said, “revealed hundreds of child pornography files on Adams’s devices.”
Despite those hundreds of files, Adams’s guilty plea was to just one count each of distribution, receipt, and possession of child pornography. Federal sentencing statutes order mandatory minimum sentences of five years in prison for the first charges of distribution and receipt of child pornography. At Adams’s July 22 sentencing, he’ll also face fines of up to $250,000 and a possible lifetime of supervised release.
This is Adams’s first guilty plea. But these are not the first allegations against him.
In January 2010, a Provincetown boy accused Adams — then a soon-to-be-reelected school committee member, Pier Corp. board member, and officer of the Knights of Columbus — of indecent exposure at a Knights of Columbus teen night he was chaperoning. According to partially redacted police reports, the victim said Adams had exposed himself and repeatedly encouraged him to do the same.
In a 2010 interview with the Cape Cod Times, Adams claimed that the boy fabricated his story after Adams confronted him about 39 nip bottles of liquor missing from the Knights of Columbus supply.
After an investigation, state police charged Adams with two counts of indecent exposure and one of lewd, wanton, and lascivious conduct. The lewd conduct charge and one indecent exposure charge were dismissed. A September 2012 bench trial found Adams not guilty of the other indecent exposure charge.
In September 2018, Adams pleaded not guilty to charges of larceny over $1,200 and false pretense in a commercial transaction over $1,200 in Orleans, after investigations by state and Provincetown police into a $155,000 fraud operation. Adams stole $125,000 from “previous victims,” police wrote, and $30,000 from Barry Clifford, his client. Adams had been Clifford’s insurance agent.
Adams had told each victim that he needed to wire large sums to an attorney named Peter Clark in order to collect a $4 million cash inheritance from Adams’s late, estranged father.
An investigation into Clark and Adams had begun in November 2017, when police found Adams — who had been crowd-sourcing money to pay Clark for months — at home with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his abdomen. State police determined that neither Adams’s would-be inheritance nor attorney Peter Clark existed. They told this to Adams, who, at that time, they believed to be the victim of a fraud scheme by “Clark.”
But Adams continued to “borrow” money — including Clifford’s $30,000 — from friends and clients to wire to “Clark” to collect his “inheritance.”
He knew that the state police said he was “involved in a scam,” Adams told Provincetown Det. Richard Alves in July 2018. But he “wanted to get redemption.”
Adams appeared regularly in Orleans District Court for pretrial hearings until July 2019, when the commonwealth dismissed his case because, according to his docket, prosecution witnesses would not cooperate for trial.