05/15/14 — Minister pleads in child porn case

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Minister pleads in child porn case

By From staff reports
Published in News on May 15, 2014 1:46 PM

Timothy Jack Strickland

RALEIGH -- A Mount Olive freelance minister faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in federal court Wednesday to receipt of child pornography.

Sentencing for Timothy Jack Strickland, 42, is set for Aug. 18.

Strickland could face 40 years in prison if it is determined that he has had prior convictions related to sexual abuse, abusive sexual conduct with a minor or an offense related to child pornography or sex trafficking of children.

According to the investigation, in March 2013, while attending training, a FBI Task Force officer engaged in a chat with Strickland, who, it was determined later, was a Pentecostal minister.

During the chat, the agent observed that Strickland's directory contained child pornography files.

A search warrant was executed in July 2013 at Strickland's home at 107 E. James St. in Mount Olive, where a laptop, several hard drives and other media devices were seized.

Computer forensics revealed about 11,000 images of child pornography.

At that time Mount Olive police said the warrants specified that Strickland "did photograph, develop and duplicate material containing visual representations of minors engaged in sexual activity."

A federal grand jury returned a criminal indictment on Feb. 18, charging Strickland with 10 counts of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.

The possession of child pornography charge will be dismissed at the time of sentencing as part of a plea agreement.

Strickland was not serving as a pastor at a church at the time of his arrest, having stepped down earlier in 2013 as pastor at Jones Grove Pentecostal Holiness Church.

However, he was the head of the Mount Olive Ministerial Association and the executive director of Clergy2Clergy, a support group for other clergy.

The criminal investigation was conducted by the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Ethan A. Ontjes is handling the prosecution on behalf of the Eastern District of North Carolina.