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.