By Emma Witman
A former White County deputy was sentenced Tuesday morning in Gainesville’s federal court to 15 years in federal prison and 15 years of supervised release for child pornography charges.
Christopher Davis, 34, has also been ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.
Within 72 hours of release, he must register as a sex offender and must also participate in a mental health program and psycho-sexual evaluation upon release.
“The defendant violated the trust of a young girl and his community,” said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates in a release. “That the defendant committed this offense while serving as a law enforcement officer makes this crime that much more atrocious.”
Davis pleaded guilty in September to sexual exploitation of children.
He was originally charged for both possession of child porn and producing child porn, but the charges for
possession were dropped as part of a plea deal.
Investigators from the Child Exploitation Investigations Group tracked Davis after arresting [name withheld] of Houston, Texas, on charges of possession of child pornography.
Davis’ ex-wife, Lisa Davis, who was [name withheld]’s girlfriend at the time, directed investigators to Davis as the producer of photos, found in [name withheld]’s possession, of a 7-year-old girl engaged in sexually explicit acts.
Investigators found that Davis had taken the pictures inside his Dahlonehga home.
At that time, and at the time of his arrest, Davis was employed as a deputy with the White County Sheriff’s Office, according to court reports.
[name withheld] has been sentenced in Texas to 10 years in federal prison for possession of child porn and faces further prosecution.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill E. Steinberg helped prosecute the Davis case.
“The court imposed the 15-year sentence that we had requested. It’s appropriate considering the severity of the offense,” she said.
Davis’ attorney Tony Axam did not have a comment on the sentence.
The maximum sentence Davis faced was 30 years, supervised release for life and $250,000 fine.
United States District Court Judge William O’Kelley presided over the case.
O’Kelley said he considered Davis’ crimes lower on the spectrum in terms of severity within the child pornography statute, and expressed some ambivalence with the mandatory minimums established by the federal sentencing guidelines.
“These cases are not all alike, and that’s one of the reasons I don’t like guidelines, mandatory minimums,” O’Kelley said.
But the judge did note that Davis’ possession of “graphic, violent pornography, including play-acting with children,” was disturbing.
Federal agents found thousands of digital images on Davis’ computer, court reports said.
The judge reminded Davis he has 14 days to appeal the sentence.
Steinberg noted that Davis’ plea agreement almost entirely waived his right to appeal, allowing only limited circumstances in which he could.
“If they are sentenced above their guidelines range, he could appeal. But that wasn’t the case here,” Steinberg said.