Church music director sentenced for child porn

February 21, 2008 1:05:59 PM PST
A former music director at a prominent Greenwich church has been sentenced 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.

He 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.

Prosecutors also contend that Tate had sexually abused children at home and abroad since the 1970s. Authorities said Tate picked up boy prostitutes in New York and brought them back to his apartment at the church for sexual contact and traveled to Thailand to have sex with boys. He was not charged with those crimes.

Tate's case also 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.


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