HERNANDO, MS (abc24.com) - A former pastor has been sentenced after he pleaded guilty to viewing child porn at the Hernando public library. Eddie Prince faced 40 years in prison, but the pastor's reputation helped reduce the sentence.
Prince was arrested last April and the plea agreement was reached in June. He'll now serve two years in the DeSoto County Jail and eight years probation.
"We determined the state would be able to prove what he was seeing on computer would have been illegal in Mississippi," said Stan Little, Prince's attorney.
Possessing child pornography carries a hefty punishment of up to 40 years in state prison, "which for a man of 62 years of age would have been a life sentence had he gotten it," Little said.
The attorney said negotiations with the district attorney took the former Oak Grove Baptist Church pastor's life work into account.
"This is a man who had 40 years reputation of helping people in north Mississippi," he said. "That went a long way, his reputation; we came up with a plea agreement of two years incarceration in county jail."
That means he'll be jailed in Hernando, Prince's hometown, not in the state penitentiary. It's also the same town where Prince was caught downloading child porn at the public library.
Little said, "It was a mistake, just something very out of character."
Rachel Witt, Prince's daughter, said of her father last April, "We've always known our father to live a Godly life, and he has been a great teacher and example to us."
His family stood by him throughout the investigation.
Little says Prince has received counseling and is ready to serve his sentence. "I think he's now back to pretty close Eddie Prince so many know and respect."
Prince has another hearing with a judge in October, but his lawyer says nothing about the sentence should change.