A Bible school teacher at a local church in Chesapeake, Virginia, was sentenced to 12 years in prison on child pornography charges.
In August, Gerald Lee Porter, 71, who volunteered as a Bible school teacher at River Oak Church, pleaded guilty to one count of receipt of child pornography.
According to the receipt, law enforcement agencies recovered indecent illegal images from his computer by using a peer-to-peer file sharing network. Porter initially denied the images had anything to do with him and said two years ago a coworker gave him a hard drive that contained the images.
However, he later took responsibility for the images. Further investigation also revealed that Porter had collected hundreds of images and videos since 2004.
Court documents also state that Porter taught at a Bible school several times a week to young children but there was no evidence if he behaved in an inappropriate way with the students.
Porter apologized in court for the harm he had caused his family and “church family.”
“I am definitely a broken man. I have offended God,” he said.
A prison sentence of more than 12 years was recommended by federal prosecutors but Porter’s attorney Stephen Pfeiffer argued U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson should be lenient keeping in mind Porter's health.
He said due to his client’s health issues that include “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 should only be given the mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a two years house arrest.
Pfeiffer also said Porter has Type 2 diabetes, is a prostate cancer survivor and is obese.
The health concerns raised by Pfeiffer were challenged by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Yusi. She said Porter had been collecting the images for over 13 years which means he was in better health condition back then .
“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. The Bureau of Prisons is capable of dealing with all of Porter’s physical ailments,” she wrote in court documents.
Yusi also asked the judge for a “severe sentence of imprisonment.”
Jackson dismissed Pfeiffer’s claims and agreed with Yusi, ordering a prison sentence of 12 years to Porter.
“An unfortunate way to end a life that appeared to be bright,” Jackson said while handing down the sentence.
Thumbnail Credits: Western Tidewater Regional Jail