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Child Pornographer Gets First-Grade Teacher's Support

Most elementary school teachers would want nothing to do with a child pornographer.

But a few weeks back, a Williamson County teacher ended up siding with a man who had collected hundreds of explicit pictures of young kids.

Our chief investigative reporter Phil Williams has The Inside Story:

Jess O'Donnell was a young man who got sucked into the vile and despicable world of child pornography --  a world from which the FBI finally yanked him last fall.

The 20-year-old MTSU student had collected hundreds of images of children as young as three in sexually explicit poses. He even set up a computer server so other pedophiles could exchange child porn.

(See: Former Brentwood Man Indicted on Child Pornography Charges)

O'Donnell later pleaded guilty to federal charges.

But when it came time for his sentencing, family friends begged the judge not to treat him like a criminal.

One of those family friends testifying on his behalf, ironically, was a first-grade teacher from Johnson Elementary in Franklin.

"As a school teacher," the prosecutor asked teacher Laurel Aiello, "would you be comfortable having somebody looking at child pornography to be around your children?"

"In general?," she answered, adding: "Obviously, no."

But Jess O'Donnell, she testified, was different.

"I think I see his heart," Aiello explained. "I believe that God works on us if we're open to it, and I think he is open to it."

She added, "So, yeah, I trust him."

In the end, the judge sentenced him to seven years in federal prison, followed by nine years of supervision.

Apparently, His Honor didn't have the same faith as the first-grade teacher.

Other Williamson County educators also testified for O'Donnell at his initial detention hearing.

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