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Man gets 11 years in child porn case

Former church deacon maintains his innocence

POSTED: December 26, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A former Gainesville church deacon maintained his innocence of child pornography charges Thursday before being sentenced to 11 years and three months in federal prison.

Marvin D. Bridges, 37, addressed U.S. District Court Judge William C. O’Kelley in a sentencing hearing on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography. Bridges was convicted by a federal jury in Gainesville following a three-day trial in October.

"I am innocent of these charges, and me and my family will continue to do everything we can to prove my innocence," Bridges told the judge.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Steinberg said the evidence presented at trial showed "there was child pornography all over this defendant’s computer, and it was put there at all times of the day and night, and there is just no other explanation but that the defendant put it there."

Prosecutors said some 1,900 illegal still images and 114 illegal videos were found in a search of Bridges’ computer, which was seized from his home in September 2007 during the course of a larger U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation dubbed "Project Flicker."

"Project Flicker" targeted several illegal Web sites that trafficked in child pornography and tracked individuals who used the Web sites.

Bridges, who operated a pressure-washing business, was a deacon at Victory Baptist Church on Skelton Road.

His parents told the judge Thursday that their son was not guilty of the charges. His mother, Lula Bell Bridges, said her son may have been the victim of identity theft.

His father, in a rambling, emotional speech to the judge, said he couldn’t believe his son was capable of the crime.

"I believe in my son, and I will always fight for his vindication," Marvin Bridges Sr. said.

Bridges Sr. said a search of his son’s home by authorities turned up nothing.

"Nothing except what was found on that computer," he said. "The shoe don’t fit. He is not the man."

In trial testimony, Bridges offered alibis for six occasions in which child pornography was downloaded to his computer, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McBurney said after the hearing. But there was evidence of illegal images being acquired at many other times, McBurney said.

The jury took just 30 minutes to reach a guilty verdict.

Steinberg read aloud a victim impact statement written by a young woman whose sexual exploitation was spread across the globe through images and videos traded on the Internet. The series of photos, known as the "Vicki series" is one of the most prevalent child pornography collections in the world. The girl was 10 and 11 years old when the images, some of which were found on Bridges’ computer, were made.

"Thinking about all those sick perverts watching my naked body being ravaged makes me think I was being raped by each and every one of them," the girl, now 18, wrote.

O’Kelley ordered that Bridges be placed under lifetime supervision after his release from prison. The judge also recommended mental health treatment for Bridges, but agreed with prosecutors that the defendant’s attitude would hinder any efforts at counseling.

"Until the defendant is willing to accept responsibility for his crime, there is probably very little that can be done for him," O’Kelley said.


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