Former Baptist Church Pastor Sentenced for Child Exploitation Violations
TYLER, Texas — A 33-year-old former preacher at the Lake Highlands Baptist Church in Sulphur Springs, Texas has been sentenced for child exploitation offenses in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Chad Calhoun, of Longview, Texas, was convicted by a federal jury on Dec. 10, 2015 for receiving and possessing child pornography and was sentenced to 135 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider on Aug. 3, 2016. Upon his release from custody, Calhoun will serve a term of supervised release of 10 years and will be required to register as a sex offender.
According to the evidence introduced at trial, in June 2014, an investigator with the Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office observed an individual making child pornography available on a peer-to-peer file sharing program. The computer user tracked back to Calhoun’s house in Sulphur Springs. During trial, law enforcement introduced evidence showing that child pornography was made available for distribution on the peer-to-peer network from Calhoun’s residence and from the Lake Highlands Baptist Church, where he was the pastor, for more than a year prior to this investigation. Members of law enforcement also testified about the forensic evidence located on a laptop seized from Calhoun, including hundreds of videos of child pornography that had been stored in various folders.
This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa Miller and Jim Noble.