BEAUMONT, TX (News Release) - By Jena Johnson - email
BEAUMONT, TX (KTRE) - A former Lufkin Boys & Girls Club director has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of possession of child pornography and has agreed to serve 57 months in federal prison, according to a spokesperson with the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Lufkin Police arrested Patrick Sanders, 52, in May 2009 for taking photographs of a child who was 17 at the time.
The U.S. Attorney's Office indicted him in November for sexual exploitation of a child.
A spokesperson with the U.S. Attorney's Office said Sanders pleaded guilty to a lesser offense of possession of child pornography.
While Sanders has agreed to a sentence, U.S. Attorney Malcolm Bales said the court can reject the agreement, at which point Sanders has the right to withdraw the plea.
According to an arrest affidavit, a complainant reported seeing nude images of children on Sanders' laptop computer. Sanders gave consent to police to examine the computer and they found several of the known victim. The victim told police he did pose for Sanders. Sanders later admitted to police to taking the photographs.
Sanders was someone who guided the lives of young people in the Lufkin community.
"The initial shock was something we had to overcome. I think everybody was really surprised the incident happened," said Jeff Woods, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of East Texas.
Once the shock wore off, Woods said the truth did not break the Lufkin Boys & Girls Club.
"We really appreciate all the support we've gotten from the officials in Lufkin and the donors that contribute to the Boys & Girls Club of Lufkin, so overall I think we've gotten past the incident," said Woods.
Bales said it appears Sanders had one victim -- an infatuation with a then 17-year-old boy.
"It was not the typical child pornography case that we often see. It appeared to be a situation where Mr. Sanders had an obsession with this young man and really boy I should say," said Bales.
Woods said Sanders can't take back what he did. "He made a major mistake. It changed his life," said Woods.
Woods said Sanders was his friend. He said Sanders abused and broke the trust of so many. That -- he can't forget.
"It's hard to forgive an incident like that. What he did was wrong and I don't think we can ever forgive something like that," said Woods.
"There's no indication that any of the kids of the Boys & Girls Club were in danger or involved in this in anyway, but Mr. Sanders, in his position, by doing this has done something that is really unforgivable," said Angelina County District Attorney, Clyde Herrington.
With Sanders looking to spend years behind bars, the Boys & Girls Club works to get past what are being called unforgivable actions.
The state said they won't prosecute Sanders unless the federal prosecution falls through. A sentencing hearing date is pending.
Bales said the U.S. Attorney's office had two reasons for accepting the lesser offense. First, because Sanders had pornographic images of only one person on his laptop. Second, because a family member, who was the person who saw the images on the laptop, would have had to testify in the trial.
Bales said Sanders was remorseful for the crime and is willing to accept the punishment, another factor used in accepting the lesser offense.
Sanders is not to be confused with Patrick Sanders of Head Start in Nacogdoches.