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Florida judge sends ex-deputy to prison on child porn charge

August 26, 2021 GMT

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge sentenced a former Florida sheriff’s deputy to 35 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to producing and possessing child pornography, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

The judge Wednesday also ordered Travis Ryan Pritchard, 38, to register as a sex offender. He was accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl.

Pritchard was a member of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office DUI unit when he was arrested last year.

According to court documents, Pritchard used an online chat app to engage with the girl from December 2019 to May 2020.

She told investigators Pritchard asked her to send nude pictures of herself and that he knew she was only 15, prosecutors said.

The deputy came to her house to have sex with her after her parents went to sleep, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

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On April 29, 2020, an undercover detective took over the girl’s identity and chatted with Pritchard on the app. Records show Pritchard encouraged the girl to sneak out of the house to meet him.

He sent her a message that said, “I’m here,” when he arrived at her house in his patrol car around 2 a.m. on May 2, records show. Minutes later he was arrested by police.

A forensic review of Pritchard’s cellphone found multiple conversations with the child, along with an encrypted digital folder with numerous images of child sexual abuse, the newspaper reported. The images included the sexual abuse of the girl, produced at the direction of Pritchard, and the rape of a younger girl, prosecutors said.

K. Jim Phillips, assistant special agent in charge of Jacksonville’s Homeland Security office, said all child sexual abuse is appalling, “but when this crime is committed by someone in a position of trust, it is beyond comprehension.”

Pritchard had faced 15 to 50 years in prison.