Man gets 15 years in child porn case
LAFAYETTE — A former Opelousas child psychiatrist was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison Friday on child pornography charges that arose after his release from serving an earlier 10-year sentence in a separate pornography case.
Gary Jefferson Byrd, 72, of Opelousas, also faced state sexual battery charges in the 1980s in St. Landry Parish for allegedly molesting two boys in his care, but those charges were dropped in an agreement that called on Byrd never to see children as clients again if he regained his medical license. Prosecutors at the time said the deal was made because of the difficulty in finding evidence to corroborate accusations from the children.
The most recent charges involved what prosecutors said were thousands of images of child pornography he had downloaded from the Internet and illicit videos he began ordering in 2008, about five years after his release from serving a 10-year federal sentence in a prior child pornography case.
A federal jury convicted him on the new charges in October, following a two-day trial.
Byrd faced 15 years to 17½ years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.
In sentencing him at the bottom of that range, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote said she considered Byrd’s age and the nature of the pornography, which she characterized as “not the worst.”
But the judge chastised Byrd for seeming to take no responsibility for his actions.
Byrd told Foote that he did not believe the nude pictures of children found in a search of his home and computer were illegal child pornography.
Byrd, who long ago lost his medical license, said he still does psychiatric research and was collecting the images for a study of what he labeled a societal “overreaction” to nudity.
“I have a good faith belief they were legally permissible nudity,” he said. “From my point of view, I honestly did not know I had any pornography.”
His explanation didn’t sit well with the judge.
“The court is frankly appalled that even today you fail to admit any guilt in this matter,” Foote told Byrd.
Foote also sentenced Byrd to pay a $5,000 fine, enroll in a treatment program for sex offenders and submit to supervision for 10 years after his release.
She ordered that during that time he have no access to a computer and no contact with unsupervised children younger than 18.