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Sunday School Teacher Charged with Downloading Child Porn

14-Feb-2014

A 72-year-old Sunday school teacher was arrested in Guthrie, Oklahoma, late last month on complaints of possession of child pornography. Police serving a search warrant at the home of Clyde Edward Matthews on January 31 say they arrived to find a computer actively downloading child pornography.

Matthews allegedly admitted to downloading and viewing child pornography involving children ages 7 to 13 for the past five years. Reports say Matthews admitted in a written statement, "I have downloaded kiddie porn on my computer. I am ashamed to admit it, and wish I had never done it." Police say he also admitted to molesting young girls "decades ago."

The fourth- and fifth-grade Sunday school teacher at Seward Road Baptist Church in Guthrie was arrested and booked into the Logan County jail. He was released on $100,000 bond under the condition that he has no internet access, is barred contact with minor children, and is not allowed to participate in church activities involving children.

Last week, the Logan County District Attorney filed felony charges against Matthews. He is charged with one count of possession of child pornography in violation of 21 O.S. 1021.2-1021.3 and three counts of violating the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act in violation of 21 O.S. 1951-1981.

As part of the Oklahoma Law on Obscenity and Child Pornography, 21 O.S. 1021.2 states that any person who knowingly possesses child pornography is guilty of a felony punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. No one convicted of the offense is eligible for a deferred sentence, which means prison time is mandatory. Additionally, the offense mandates that anyone convicted of the crime must register as a sex offender and be publicly identified on the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry.

The Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act, beginning in 21 O.S. 1951, makes it illegal to use a computer or computer network to violate any state law. Section 1958 of the act states, "No person shall communicate with, store data in, or retrieve data from a computer system or computer network for the purpose of using such access to violate any of the provisions of the Oklahoma Statutes. Any person convicted of violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for a term of not more than five (5) years, or by a fine of not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or by both such imprisonment and fine."

It is important to note that the penalties levied upon conviction of violating the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act are additional to any prison term and fines associated with conviction of the underlying offense. Since viewing, downloading, possessing, and distributing child pornography is often associated with the internet and computer use, child pornography offenses are frequently charged in conjunction with violation of the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act. 

In the case described above, if Matthews were convicted of all four counts and sentenced to the maximum on each count, he would face 35 years in prison and $50,000 in fines. As a 72-year-old man, the likelihood of Matthews outliving such a sentence would be virtually nil.

Many people feel cocooned by the anonymity of a computer screen; however, that sense of anonymity is false. Computers are frequently monitored by Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force members attempting to eradicate the downloading and sharing of child pornography and the online solicitation of children. If you are tempted to cross a line when perusing the internet, remember that your moves may not be private, and the penalties associated with sexually exploiting children via the internet are severe. Click here to learn more.



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