07/03/13 — Minister charged with child porn

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Minister charged with child porn

By Nelson Bland
Published in News on July 3, 2013 1:46 PM

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Timothy Jack Strickland

MOUNT OLIVE -- A Mount Olive minister has been charged with 10 federal counts of second-degree exploitation of minors.

Timothy Jack Strickland, 41, was taken into custody at his home at 107 E. James St. Tuesday on federally secured warrants after allegedly using the Internet to obtain photos of children involved in sex acts, which is a federal crime, Mount Olive police Chief Brian Rhodes said.

The FBI, which investigates child pornography on the Internet, had been investigating the case for a year, Rhodes said.

Strickland, originally from Princeton, is married with two young children. He is a freelance minister, but after stepping down from Jones Grove Pentecostal Holiness Church earlier this year, is not currently serving as a pastor at a church. He is, however, the head of the Mount Olive Ministerial Association and the executive director of Clergy2Clergy, a support group for other clergy.

The arrest came after the investigation by a special task force made up of FBI agents, Wayne and Duplin county sheriff's deputies and other officers who investigate child pornography.

Police confiscated four computers from the home of Strickland with numerous still photos of minors engaged in various sex acts.

Rhodes said the computers, external hard drives, flash drives and "anything that could hold pictures" were seized during the arrest.

Warrants specify that Strickland "did photograph, develop and duplicate material containing visual representations of minors engaged in sexual activity."

Rhodes said it could not be determined who the children are because the photos were taken from the Internet, but he noted that the investigation into that aspect of the case is continuing by the FBI and that there could be more charges.

Rhodes said if Strickland is convicted, he could face up to 31 months or more in prison for each offense, which are Class E felonies.

The investigation was initiated by the FBI and carried out by the task force. The Mount Olive Police Department does not have an officer on the task force.

"We have to depend on state and federal agencies because we are a small department and we don't have the manpower or budgetary funds to work cases like this," Rhodes said.

"The task force obtained enough information on this case that they applied for a search warrant. It was a federal search warrant signed off by a federal judge, not a state search warrant. They called us and we executed the warrant. The execution of the warrant was what we call a 'soft approach,' no guns were drawn or anything like that."

Rhodes said the FBI agents at the scene included a computer forensic officer who downloaded pictures for the local police file.

Strickland was taken to the Wayne County Jail, where he was placed under a $50,000 secured bond.