A Fayetteville man whose pastoral and teaching careers took him from Hot Springs Village to Heber Springs to Benton over the past 35 years was sentenced to prison Monday for possessing child pornography — an addiction he said was rooted in childhood sexual abuse.

Timothy Lee Reddin, 49, pleaded guilty Sept. 8 to possessing at least 10 illegal images, including one depiction of a child younger than 12. The images were found this spring by a co-worker who was cleaning out Reddin’s office after he quit a job at the Arkansas Rice Depot.

Reddin admitted Monday to U.S. District Judge George Howard Jr. in Little Rock that in 1998, he resigned as director of missions for the Central Baptist Association in Benton after two people there also found child pornography on a computer he used, and confronted him about it.

He had earlier spent 16 years as a pastor in Hot Springs Village and taught high school for three years in Heber Springs and McCrory. But despite having jobs working with children and an admitted weakness for child pornography, he has never — and would never — actually molest a child, he said emphatically.

Instead of departing from federal sentencing guidelines and placing Reddin on probation, thus allowing him to continue private counseling that he began on his own shortly after his arrest, Howard ordered Reddin to serve 27 months in prison. But Howard said he would recommend to the federal Bureau of Prisons that Reddin spend his incarceration at a federal facility in North Carolina that strives to rehabilitate sex offenders.

The guidelines recommended a penalty range of 27 to 33 months. Reddin’s attorney, Bobby McCallister of Benton, argued unsuccessfully that Reddin’s deep feelings of remorse, diligent efforts to overcome his addiction and lack of criminal history would justify departing from the guidelines.

Testifying on Reddin’s behalf were his counselor, a friend who is also a pastor, his wife and the investigating FBI agent — all of whom said they believed Reddin to be sincere in his efforts to reform.

The son of a preacher and the brother of two preachers, Reddin testified that he was sexually abused at age 10. He said he was repeatedly molested by an older boy who was a friend of his brother’s, until Reddin’s family moved away when he was 15.

He said his conservative family values and his pride caused him to push the episodes to the back of his mind, pretending to himself that the abuse had never happened, until he began using the Internet. Reddin said that’s when he discovered readily accessible pornographic images of children and adults and felt inexplicably compelled to explore them, to try to understand his own repressed feelings.

He admitted exchanging e-mail with a teen-age boy in Pulaski County after the boy answered an ad Reddin had placed on a Web site aimed at homosexual teen-agers. But Reddin said he at first believed the e-mail was from an adult posing as a child.

Reddin, who also has a young son, said he moved his family to Fayetteville in late August to work toward earning a graduate degree in history that would allow him to teach college-level courses. He asked that his progress in that direction not be interrupted by prison, but Howard agreed with Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Newton, saying the prison program was the best place for Reddin.

“I hope that along the way, you will see that the action is designed to help you face the problem and deal with it effectively,” Howard told Reddin.

This article was published on Tuesday, December 5, 2000