Pastor sentenced in child porn case

By The Associated Press

HERNANDO, Miss. (AP) — A Hernando pastor who pleaded guilty to child exploitation has been sentenced to two years.

Officials said the Rev. Edward Earl Prince is serving the time in the DeSoto County jail.

Prince faced a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted of possession of child pornography. Instead of the case going to trial, Prince pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography. He received a 10-year sentence, under which he will serve two years and be on probation for eight years.

“It is unusual to do the sentence in the county jail, but that was part of our plea deal for him not to go to a state penitentiary, and the state agreed to it,” Prince’s attorney, Stan Little of Hernando, told The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/P5fTT1 ).

Little said on Oct. 15, he along with prosecutors will go to Circuit Court in Batesville for the judge to receive a report about Prince’s sentence in the county jail.

Prince, 62, was arrested last April after a four-month investigation. Hernando police said employees at the First Regional Library in Hernando called investigators in December after patrons and staff saw Prince viewing what they deemed inappropriate material on one of the computers.

The computer was seized from the library, and Prince, the former pastor at Oak Grove Baptist Church, was charged with one count of possession of child pornography.

Little said Prince was relieved of his duty as pastor of the church soon after his arrest. He was sent for psychological counseling at a facility in Tennessee.

“Brother Prince merely viewed something in a Google search that he should not have, and there were no allegations that a child was hurt. He went to counseling to deal will issues from his childhood that have affected him.

“He received the sentence he did because there was viewing of pictures. There was no trafficking or producing of pictures. He also has been a well thought of member of the community for 40 years,” Little said.

Hernando police said the computers in the library have software to keep people from viewing inappropriate material. However, investigators said Prince managed to get around the filters and firewalls.