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Ex-church music leader to prison for child porn

/ Source: The Associated Press

A former music director at a prominent Greenwich church was sentenced Thursday to 5 1/2 years in federal prison for possessing child pornography.

Robert Tate, 66, must also pay a $50,000 fine and participate in sex offender treatment.

Tate pleaded guilty in January 2007 to possessing child pornography and then spent several weeks at long-term treatment centers for sexually deviant behavior.

"I've struggled all my life with sexual attraction to young boys," Tate said during his sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport. "I was abused myself, but that is no excuse for what I did. I'm deeply ashamed of it."

Tate was choir director for 34 years at Christ Church, creating a music program that gained an international reputation. Former President George H.W. Bush attended the church while growing up and funeral services for his parents were held there.

U.S. District Judge Alan Nevas condemned Tate's conduct but said he would have faced a much longer sentence had he not agreed to treatment and been forthcoming about his misconduct.

"What you did was unspeakable. It was horrendous," Nevas said, adding that Tate victimized children every time he looked at a graphic image.

Although Tate has not been charged with having sex with children, prosecutors said he sexually abused children in the U.S. and abroad beginning in the 1970s. They said Tate had sex with underage male prostitutes he picked up in New York at his church apartment, and that he had sex with boys in Thailand.

Tate admitted he paid to fondle boys in the Philippines and Costa Rica, and for sex with young men in Thailand. Tate also confirmed he went to New York City for sex.

"There were boys I went into the city with whom I had this kind of interaction," Tate said.

Prosecutors would not say why they didn't charge Tate in these instances, but attorneys involved in the case said the conduct occurred many years ago and the victims were unknown.

Tate's case led to the conviction of a former attorney for the church for destroying Tate's laptop computer containing child pornography. The attorney, Philip Russell, was sentenced to six months of home confinement.

Russell's attorneys have said Russell's wife and daughter attended the church, which had been very helpful to his wife when she was ill, and Russell wanted to avoid a church scandal.

Prosecutors said neither Russell nor the church knew about allegations that Tate was sexually abusing children.