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Former police chief pleads guilty Childers to be sentenced on child pornography, sex charges

By Scott Jenkins

Salisbury Post

GREENSBORO — Former Landis Police Chief Charles Childers pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court last week to federal child pornography and sex charges.

He faces up to 45 years in prison if the court imposes the maximum sentence, according to a plea agreement on file with the court.

Childers faced eight counts, but under the agreement he pleaded guilty to three. In return, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Middle District, led by Anna Mills Wagoner of Salisbury, agreed not to oppose a motion to dismiss the remaining counts.

Authorities arrested the 51-year-old Childers on Aug. 17. They said he had engaged in sexually explicit Internet chats with agents posing as 13-and 14-year-old girls

Investigators said Childers used computers at the Landis Police Department and his home, sometimes starting chats at work and continuing them at his house. He transmitted pornographic images and live video of himself masturbating, investigators said.

He pleaded guilty to one count each of transporting obscene matters, enticement of a minor and possessing child pornography transmitted by computer.

Prosecutors will not pursue the single count of distributing child pornography Childers had faced.

In addition to any active prison time he receives, Childers could be placed on supervised release for “any term of years or life” and fined by the court, according to the plea agreement.

Childers, who was released on $50,000 bond later in August, could not be reached Thursday night. The telephone at his home on Dogwood Drive has been disconnected.

A 26-year veteran of the Landis Police Department and chief since 2001, Childers resigned after his arrest. The charges shocked the town and led to its Board of Aldermen considering an ordinance governing computer and Internet use by town employees.

Investigators said Childers admitted carrying on the explicit Internet conversations, but initially claimed he was conducting his own investigation into online predators. However, court documents said no government agency had sanctioned the activities and that agents conducting real investigations pose as children, not 19-or 22-year-old men, as Childers had done.

In a document filed with the plea agreement, prosecutors said that if the case had gone to trial, they would have included proof that investigators found numerous child pornography images on the computer taken from the Dogwood Drive home, including images of victims identified in previous investigations.

The computer also contained logs of chats Childers had with hundreds of other people “of a predominant sexual content and involving the transmission of WebCam activities,” the document said. Many of the correspondents appear to be adult women, but most do not, it said.

“While many of those other correspondents appear to be older women, most do not,” the document said. “While there were occasional discussions involving plans for actual face-to-face meetings, the logs do not reveal that any took place and independent investigation has not confirmed any.”

Contact Scott Jenkins at 704-797-4248 or sjenkins@salisburypost.com.

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