Volunteer #Bible-school #teacher in #Chesapeake gets 12 years for #child pornography

A 71-year-old Chesapeake man was sentenced to 12 years in prison Monday on a federal child pornography charge.

Gerald Lee Porter, who volunteered as a Bible school teacher at River Oak Church in Great Bridge until shortly before his arrest earlier this year, also was ordered to pay $50,000 in fines and court costs.

Porter pleaded guilty in August in U.S. District Court in Norfolk to one count of receipt of child pornography.

Three law enforcement agencies separately downloaded illegal images from a computer linked to Porter starting in April 2016, according to court documents.

An investigator with the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, a task force officer working with Homeland Security Investigations and an FBI agent all used a peer-to-peer file-sharing network to copy child pornography from the computer, court documents say.

Investigators served a search warrant May 9 at Porter’s home. He initially claimed a co-worker gave him an external hard drive two years earlier that contained child pornography. The next morning, however, he acknowledged that was a lie and took responsibility for the hundreds of images and videos eventually recovered from his various computer equipment.

A forensic analysis of the equipment showed he had been collecting child pornography since at least October 2004.

Investigators learned Porter taught Bible school a couple of times a week for children between kindergarten and fifth grade, according to court documents. In May, a pastor said there was no indication Porter had done anything inappropriate with the children .

Federal guidelines recommended a sentence of more than 12½ years in prison.

Porter’s attorney asked the judge to impose only the mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, to be followed by two years’ house arrest.

Attorney Stephen Pfeiffer noted his client’s health, which includes “fatigue, balance disorder, dizziness, major depression, anxiety, hypertension, tension headaches, vertigo, irritability, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, respiratory abnormality, shortness of breath and kidney stones.” He also is a prostate cancer survivor who has uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Because of his diabetes, Porter has decreased sensation in both feet, meaning he does not always feel pain and is more susceptible to scrapes and cuts becoming infected, Pfeiffer said. Pfeiffer said that can lead to gangrene.

Porter cited the removal of his prostate a decade ago, and his subsequent inability to be intimate with his wife, for his “predilection towards pornography in the first place,” according to Pfeiffer.

“I am definitely a broken man,” Porter said in court, apologizing for the harm he had caused his family and “church family.” “I have offended God.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Yusi did not ask for a specific prison term, but she urged U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson to impose a “severe sentence of imprisonment.” She noted Porter started collecting the images recovered more than 13 years ago, and that some of the images involved toddlers.

“While the government is not asking for a guidelines sentence, it also does not believe that the age and health of the defendant should be an overly significant factor in the Court’s determination of an appropriate sentence,” Yusi wrote in court documents. “The Bureau of Prisons is capable of dealing with all of Porter’s physical ailments.”

Jackson agreed, saying many of Porter’s medical issues are “normal ailments” people who aren’t behind bars deal with every day.

Before handing down the sentence, he dismissed a report provided by a doctor hired by the defense that found Porter was unlikely to reoffend. Jackson said it was “not credible.”

“An unfortunate way to end a life that appeared to be bright,” the judge said.