updated 7/30/2011 12:34:20 AM ET 2011-07-30T04:34:20

A judge in England has come under harsh criticism for telling a man who admitted possessing hundreds of child porn images: “I don't criticize you for being a teacher who's attracted to children."

Judge Mary Jane Mowat made the comment while handing a suspended sentence to 63-year-old David Armstrong, The Telegraph newspaper reported Friday.

The paper said Mowat told Armstrong: “Many teachers are (attracted to them) but they keep their urges under control both when it comes to children and when it comes to images of children."

Child abuse advocates called the comments an insult to victims, the Telegraph said.

“Teachers are professionals whose interest is ensuring children and young people achieve their educational potential," said Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers. "To suggest their interest in pupils could understandably be anything else is totally unacceptable."

The Telegraph said Armstrong, who is married, was arrested after a teaching assistant at the Little Heath School in Tilehurst saw files on Armstrong's laptop computer with names like "rape wife" and "nude model."

The newspaper said that police found 4,500 indecent images and videos on two laptops and an external hard drive. Armstrong admitted five charges of "making indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs" of children between 2007 and 2010, the Telegraph said.

Mowat sentenced Armstrong to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, and put him on a sex offenders list for 10 years. He was ordered to undergo treatment and barred from working with children.

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