Former Vanderbilt professor back in court on child porn charges - WKRN News 2

Former Vanderbilt professor back in court on child porn charges

Posted: Updated: Sep 28, 2013 04:18 PM
James Lang James Lang
James Lang James Lang

A former Vanderbilt University Sociology professor who was arrested on child pornography charges nearly five years ago was back in federal court on Friday.

In 2008, law enforcement agents arrested James Lang after officials discovered hundreds of images of child pornography on computers at his home and within Vanderbilt offices.

Lang, 69, pleaded guilty in 2010 and was given a very unusual sentence in 2012.

U.S. District Court Judge William Haynes ordered that Lang teach in a correctional institute, behind prison walls, 40 hours a week.  That sentence was supposed to last three years.

FBI sources told Nashville's News 2 Investigates that suspects convicted of child pornography typically receive a sentence of about five years in prison.

The Assistant U.S. Attorney was pushing for a longer sentence.  However, Judge Haynes felt that Lang is a unique case, and he can serve more good by teaching behind prison walls or to inmates who are recently released.

In court Friday, Haynes said, "He can provide quality level instruction at no cost to the government."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynne Ingram addressed the judge and said, "The United States believes if your Honor reduced the sentence to 13 months that is sufficient to address concerns that he has to be incarcerated for some period of time."

Lang's attorney, Peter Strianse, said, "I thought the core issue was service, not incarceration."

Judge Haynes interjected, "It was both. I wanted it to be in a correctional institution."
Because no state or federal prison has been willing to let Lang teach behind prison walls, the judge ordered the case be postponed another 30 days so all parties could contact officials at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison about the judge's request.

Lang's attorney released the following statement:

"Mr. Lang was sentenced in November 2012, the judge put him on supervised release, no jail time, a special requirement of his release was he would teach in a state or federal correctional facility. Mr. Lang is an intelligent former college professor, and he worked hard to get a state or federal prison to let him come behind the walls and teach. He spent every waking moment since November to accomplish that.

"We have reached a point where no prison system will permit him to serve in role of a teacher within the walls of the prison, so he has gone to other community outreach programs in Davidson County, providing a valuable service with inmates recently released, helping them, giving them life skills and literacy training."

Strianse added his client is also different than many child porn suspects because Lang was caught with only a small amount of child porn in his possession.  He was not distributing it, nor did he have any contact with children.

He also said Lang was on home confinement for four years as the case made its way through the court system.

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