Former Vanderbilt professor receives unusual sentence on child porn charge

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 1:51pm

Former Vanderbilt University sociology professor James Lang received an unusual sentence on Friday, after he was charged with possession of child pornography more than four years ago.

After hearing arguments during Lang’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Court Judge William Haynes mandated that Lang teach in a correctional institution for 40 hours per week for three years, in addition to seven years of supervised release.

Lang pleaded guilty to the charge in September 2010. On Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynne Ingram argued that Lang, 68, deserved five years in prison for his offenses, a length of time that fell within the guidelines for child pornography offenders.

But Haynes found that Lang had taken appropriate measures toward rehabilitation. Lang has been under house confinement for roughly two years while awaiting sentencing. He also spent months at a rehabilitation center in Pennsylvania for porn addiction.

“I was in a prison of my own creation, I just hadn’t seen it,” Lang told Haynes at the hearing. “[My addiction had] eaten away at my heart, my passion and self-respect.”

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents confronted Lang at his office on Vanderbilt’s campus in September 2008. During a search of his office and home computer, they found 233 images and 13 video clips depicting child pornography.

Lang admitted to authorities that he had a problem — and didn’t attempt to hide any evidence from investigators.

A TBI special agent testified at the hearing that the number of items found — some dating back to the 1990s — was on the “low end” of most child porn cases, which typically involve thousands of images.

Lang’s sentence includes registering as a sex offender as well as restrictions on being around children. Haynes said they would work with the Tennessee Department of Correction and Federal Bureau of Prisons to iron out details on Lang’s teaching appointment.

The sentencing hearing in the case had been delayed for two years after multiple motions to continue. Another motion to continue was filed last week, but Haynes denied the motion, setting up the hearing on Friday.

12 Comments on this post:

By: Jughead on 11/16/12 at 3:13

He received a light sentence because he was a Vandy professor. Disgusting.

By: karatero on 11/16/12 at 3:31

Jughead (And I take name that literally):

You have absolutely no basis to make that accusation. The article makes it pretty clear the reasons for then sentence, his attempt to rehabilitate himself and his level of cooperation with authorities. As disgusting as child porn is, making allegations against Vanderbilt is totally uncalled for under the circumstances when you have no reasons to do so.

By: Jughead on 11/16/12 at 4:45

@katatero: Big BS alert. Some creep not affiliated with Vandy would have gotten 20 years. But, Vandy prof walks--just sick,sick,sick. Justice is purchased, once again.

By: WickedTribe on 11/17/12 at 12:24

Agreeing with Jughead

By: govskeptic on 11/17/12 at 7:17

Pleads guilty over 2 yrs ago, and is just now sentenced? Does the average
Joe get that type treatment? Judge Haynes is a weird duck himself, but with
life time appointment can pretty much hand down any sentence he dreams up.

By: kittykat1960 on 11/19/12 at 11:38

This sentence, and the length of time between the guilty plea and the sentencing, have nothing to do with the Vanderbilt affiliation but everything to do with (1) the overall liberalism of the Court and (2) the inefficiency of the judicial system. Sentences lighter than the guidelines are meted out on a regular basis in this district.

"Most people are as happy as they make up their mind to be." --Abraham Lincoln

By: elrob on 11/19/12 at 3:15

elrob

the sentence is so much more restorative and rehabilitative than any prison sentence would be. a path towards justice through restoration and rehabilitation. there should be more sentencing along these lines. naysayers, mature and grow.

By: karatero on 11/19/12 at 4:12

Jughead:

Weekend has passed and I am still waiting on the proof from you. Course some sidewalk UT alumni is going to make blank accusations such as you did WITH NOTHING TO BACK IT UP. If you have a issues with the justice system Fine.....but don't drag Vanderbilt into something they otherwise have nothing to do with.....and learn to spell.....karatero is my screen-name there chuckles

By: Jughead on 11/19/12 at 5:34

@karaterotop: Did you not have something useful to do over the weekend? Busy gathering your Vandy friends to jump start Occupy Nashville? Or, organize a pro-Muslim and anti-Christian hatefest? Or, find other pedophiles to support?

By: wakeupamerica on 11/27/12 at 4:41

Dear commentators,
I´ve known Prof. Lang for more than 30 years, both as a student, a colleague (I also taught at Vanderbilt for a while) and a friend: HE IS ONE THE MOST LOVING, HONEST, INTELLIGENT PROFESSORS/SOCIOLOGISTS AND HUMAN BEINGS I HAVE VEER MET!
Let me add that what was done to Prof. Lang was uncalled for and amounted to invasion of privacy --- keep one's privacy is a human right! --- and since HE DID NO HARM TO NO ONE he should have been left alone! By invading his privacy and (unfairly) labeling him as a criminal serves no one including the public good as much as it ruins the reputation of a EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD MAN! I am sure he will come out of it; lots of friends and colleagues throughout the world will continue to love him and appreciate the outstanding work he has been doing over the years!

By: wakeupamerica on 11/27/12 at 4:45

Jim, If you read this I would appreciate it if you could send me your (new) contacts (Agost. Portugal). Big hug.

By: mkp2m on 11/28/12 at 1:19

mkp2m

@wakeupamerica

I am so angered by your post that I can hardly think clearly. I don't know Lang and will not argue with you about his intelligence or kindness, but for you to sit there and profess that "HE DID NO HARM TO NO ONE" is absolutely disgusting. I too am a firm supporter of an individual's right to privacy and don't know the details of how Lang was caught, but when you say "he should have been left alone!" are you making the argument that it's okay for him to look at pornographic images of children? If he had been left alone, wouldn't his addiction to child porn have grown? Are you saying that you would've been okay with that? It's also repulsive to me that you are arguing for this man's right to privacy, WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS IN THOSE IMAGES AND VIDEOS???? What about their rights?!?! Watching child porn IS NOT a victimless crime. By watching and downloading those images, you're aiding the people who make and distribute them. Can you wrap your head around what kind of lives those kids in the videos and pictures have or will have? Because I can promise you, whatever is done to them to make those videos messes up their ENTIRE lives. How dare you say this man didn't hurt anyone. I'm glad he's taken steps to rehabilitate himself and you can sit there and argue about his character till you're blue in the face, but DON'T say he didn't hurt anyone. "Unfairly labeling him as a criminal"??? That is a joke!!! Downloading child porn is a CRIME. The only thing that's unfair here is what was done to those kids. I wonder if they were your kids if your tune might change a little.