CEO: Naughton said 'I did it'

CEO: Naughton said 'I did it'

Summary: Infoseek CEO Harry Motro tells why he fired Patrick Naughton the day after his arrest for soliciting sex with a minor.

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TOPICS: Government
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LOS ANGELES -- Infoseek Corp. CEO Harry Motro fired Patrick Naughton after the former high-tech executive told him "I did it, I'm sorry" the day after his Sept. 16 arrest, Motro testified in the U.S. District Court here Wednesday.

But, according to defense attorney Donald Marks, that dismissal was a premature, money-saving move on the part of The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), which now owns Infoseek, that could cost Naughton more than $15 million in vested stock options.

Motro, appearing as a witness for the prosecution, said he tried to track down Naughton after learning of his arrest on charges of traveling across state lines to solicit sex with a minor. Naughton, 34, of Seattle was arrested after he allegedly arranged on a chat room to meet an FBI agent posing as a young girl at the Santa Monica Pier.

Motro said Naughton eventually called him back and told him that he would have to apologize a thousand times to a thousand people. During the call Naughton reiterated that he was caught in an FBI sting, and there had been no 13-year-old involved, Motro said.

"He said he knew he was fired," Motro said. "And I said, 'Yes, you're fired.' "

During cross-examination, Marks asked Motro if he ever told Naughton he would wait until the trial was over before firing him. Motro said he did not.

"As the result of this termination, Disney has saved itself $15 million in stock options," Marks continued, before Judge Edward Rafeedie halted that line of questioning.

Pornographic pictures shown
So far, the government has put seven witnesses on the stand in its attempt to prove Naughton solicited sex with a minor and possessed child porn.

On Wednesday afternoon, prosecutor Patricia Donahue showed jurors nine pictures that investigators found on Naughton's computer shortly after his arrest. They included an image of a man having intercourse with someone who resembled a pre-teen girl, close-ups of genitalia, and a photo of a naked girl and boy who appeared to be aged about 8 embracing in a child-like hug.

The prosecution also played a tape of the FBI decoy's meeting with Naughton at the Santa Monica Pier.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Amber Braaten, who played the decoy at the pier, said Naughton waved at her as he approached their designated meeting spots.

On the tape, Braaten -- who's aged in her late 20s and has a high-pitched, child-like voice -- giggles and says "hi" to Naughton. He asks her how she's doing, and she answers "good." Then he asks her if she wants to walk on the beach, and he tells her to "go that way," down a separate staircase.

"That was him," Braaten then says, prompting the FBI arrest.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Anthony Brooklier pointed out that Naughton told Braaten to go the other way. In its opening statement, the defense said it would show that Naughton was walking away from the decoy, not toward a liaison with her. But Braaten also told Brooklier she had posed as another 13-year-old who was chatting with Naughton in a separate undercover sting.

Naughton could take the stand as early as Thursday if the government wraps up its case.

Topic: Government

Lisa Bowman

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