Skip to main content
Press Release

Former President Of University Of Tennessee Foundation Sentenced To Serve 121 Months In Prison For Receiving And Possessing Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Bruce Owen Downsbrough, 61, of Knoxville, Tennessee, was sentenced to serve 121 months in federal prison by the Honorable Thomas A. Varlan, Chief U. S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Downsbrough pleaded guilty in October 2013 to a federal indictment charging him with receiving and possessing child pornography.

In addition to the prison sentence, Downsbrough was ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution to victims and a $75,000 fine. He was also placed on supervised release for a period of ten years and for the rest of his life will be required to register as a sex offender wherever he lives, works, or attends school.

Downsbrough ordered child pornography to be sent to him via United States mail. A federal search warrant was obtained for Downsbrough’s home and his computer was seized and searched for child pornography. Examination of the seized computer revealed that, in addition to ordering child pornography through the mail, he had been accessing and downloading child pornography via the internet.

U. S. Attorney William C. Killian emphasized the importance of the prosecution of child pornographers. “Those who seek out and collect child pornography fuel the further exploitation of children. This sentence sends a strong message to those who would prey upon the youngest and most vulnerable members of society that trafficking in images of the exploitation of children will not be tolerated,” said Killian.

Agencies involved in this investigation included Knoxville Police Department - Internet Crimes Against Children Unit and U. S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Morris represented the United States.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit For more information about internet safety education, please visit and click on the tab "resources."

Updated March 18, 2015