A former member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was sentenced Tuesday to just over three years in federal prison for possessing around 600 images of child pornography.

Robert Matthews, 52, of Orem, appeared in U.S. District Court and expressed his gratitude for the support of his friends and family.

Last August, Matthews pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography.

Although he faced up to 10 years, federal prosecutors were willing to recommend a lower sentence due to the fact that the nature of the child pornography did not involve sexual acts.

Matthews was indicted by a federal grand jury in October of last year. Charges also were filed in state court on four felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and three counts of lewdness involving a child, a misdemeanor. The state charges were dismissed in lieu of the federal case.

According to police, Matthews was investigated after they received evidence that he swam naked with four young boys during a trip to Diamond Fork Hot Springs in July 2006.

Matthews' attorney, Nyal Bodily, said the federal case only involved the child pornography images Matthews possessed.

Matthews had joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in January 2006, but he was released after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints learned of his arrest, according to a church official.

U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell sentenced Matthews to serve 37 months in prison. He was also ordered to have restricted computer access and no unsupervised contact with minors for 36 months after he is released.


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