Youth pastor gets 3 years for child porn

With credit for time already served, a former youth minister found with images of violent child pornography depicting victims as young as 5 could be out of prison in three years.

By Bob Allen

A former Tennessee Baptist youth minister avoided a maximum 20-year sentence for child pornography found on his cell phone during an investigation of his previous arrest on charges of statutory rape and sexual battery.

Joseph-Todd-NeillU.S. District Judge Harry S. “Sandy” Mattice sentenced 38-year-old Joseph Todd Neill to three years and four months for a single charge of possessing child pornography July 21.

Neill, former youth director at North Fork Baptist Church in Shelbyville, Tenn., pleaded guilty Feb. 23 in a plea bargain that included up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.

According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the judge said in reviewing Neill’s record that the incident seemed to be isolated. Neill will receive credit for the five months he has already been in jail.

Neill still faces state charges on statutory rape for his relationship with a then-17-year-old girl. It was during that investigation that police searched his home computer and found 72 images of minors, 32 of whom were children. Some depicted bondage and rape of children as young as 5.

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said he was glad Neill is in jail but he deserved a longer sentence. Clohessy urged North Fork Baptist Church officials “to immediately reach out to congregants and beg anyone who saw, suspects or suffered crimes by Neill to call police immediately.”

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