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August 4, 2016Tyler, TXUnited StatesChild Exploitation

Former East Texas church pastor sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison for receiving and possessing child pornography

TYLER, Texas — A former preacher at the Lake Highlands Baptist Church in Sulphur Springs, Texas, was sentenced Wednesday to more than 11 years in federal prison for child pornography offenses,

This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney John M. Bale, Eastern District of Texas.  This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Hopkins County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office.

Chad Calhoun, 33, of Longview, Texas, was convicted by a federal jury Dec. 10, 2015, for receiving and possessing child pornography.  He was sentenced to 135 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider Aug. 3.  Upon his release from custody, Calhoun must also 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 was 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 Lake Highlands Baptist Church, where he was the pastor, for more than a year prior to this investigation.  Law enforcement also testified at his jury trial 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 by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa Miller and Jim Noble, Eastern District of Texas.

This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 14,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2015, nearly 2,400 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims identified or rescued.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

Updated: 08/04/2016