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Former Tarleton professor gets 10 years after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography.

Paul Jones took the stand in his sentencing hearing on Tuesday.

A former professor who taught business ethics at Tarleton State University was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of possession of child pornography.

Sixty-six-year-old Paul Jones laid his head on a table and covered his face during portions of Tuesday’s sentencing hearing where a group of his supporters listened to graphic testimony about his behavior leading up to his arrest in 2020.

While announcing Jones' punishment, Judge Jason Cashon called the photo evidence "disgusting."

"Seeing it makes me sick," he said. "When you're buying it, you're making more victims.

"Someone has to stand up for these kids and the buck stops with me. I will sleep good at night."

The first witness called by Erath County Assistant District Attorney Jett Smith was detective Sherry Thomson with the Tarleton Police Department who interviewed Jones in June 2020 after child pornography allegations first surfaced.

Thomson said Jones admitted to having an addiction to pornography, engaging in sexually explicit online conversations with a minor and having several sexual encounters with a 17-year-old boy at his apartment in Stephenville.

When asked about images of child pornography, Thomson said, “Mr. Jones said there were probably two pictures on his phone that he admitted were minors.”

But an investigation revealed much more.

Thomson said at least 200 sexually explicit photos of toddlers, children and teenagers were found on his cell phone and close to 100 more on his Tarleton-issued computer.

After a warrant was issued for his arrest, Thomson said Jones was taken into custody while he was being discharged from a treatment facility.

When Smith asked Thomson if she believed Jones posed a risk to the community, she said, “I’m concerned he would continue viewing images of naked little kids.”

Attorney Brady Pendleton called several of Jones’ family members and friends to the stand to testify on his behalf.

They all said Jones was an upstanding citizen, describing him as a family man who coached his kids in sports (even being named Coach of the Year) and as a good friend and church volunteer.

They said he fell into a deep depression and began drinking heavily after the sudden death of his son Daniel, but has since sought psychiatric help and regularly attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

His wife of 41 years said she forgives her husband and remains committed to her marriage.

She said what he has been through since his arrest has “almost broken him.”

Jones also testified during the hearing, telling the court that he struggled with his sexuality after he was sexually assaulted as a teen by a Catholic priest.

He said the child pornography and explicit conversations with a 15-year-old were the result of his alcoholism and depression, "but it's not who I am."

"I am a good man who did a really bad thing and I have worked really hard to make sure I never fall down that path again," Jones said. "I would never - and I haven't - ever lay a hand on a child inappropriately."


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