FORMER PEDIATRICIAN SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS FOR POSSESSING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge today sentenced a former Guntersville pediatrician to 10 years in prison for possessing child pornography, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick Maley announced.
In sentencing MICHAEL ROY SHARPE, 64, of Albertville, U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler noted the particularly serious nature of a children’s doctor abusing a patient. If parents cannot trust their children’s pediatrician, the judge said, they may stop taking their children to the doctor, depriving them of needed care. Coogler also told Sharpe he believed the doctor had targeted a teenage girl he knew was vulnerable to his manipulation. Sharpe’s victim has a history of intervention from the Department of Human Resources.
Judge Coogler’s 10-year prison term for Sharpe is the maximum allowed under the law. The judge ordered Sharpe to serve 10 years supervised release after he completes the prison term.
“It is hard to accept that someone who takes an oath to heal people and enters a field focused on caring for children would distort that into a means to exploit them,” Vance said. “Too often, though, people who exploit or abuse children appear to the world as upstanding citizens and community leaders,” she said. “We have, and will continue to prosecute people from all walks of life if they commit sex crimes against children.”
SHARPE pleaded guilty in March to a one-count indictment that charged him with possessing a cellular phone containing images of child pornography.
According to court record, SHARPE confessed to the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners on Feb. 25, 2009, that he had had sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl. SHARPE was a pediatrician at the time and the girl was his patient. He had been communicating with her outside of a doctor/patient relationship since she was 14.
During SHARPE’S meeting with the Board of Medical Examiners, he allowed board members to look at his phone, which revealed sexually explicit text messages from the child and pornographic images of her. SHARPE received the images between Feb. 16 and Feb. 25, 2009.
SHARPE has remained in custody since his Oct. 6, 2009, arrest. He will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The FBI investigated the case, which is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Stuart Burrell.
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The Office of U.S. Attorney
Joyce White Vance
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