A Knoxville resident with ties to Breckenridge reached a deal last week on federal child pornography charges.
Bruce Downsbrough, a former chief executive officer of the University of Tennessee Foundation, was scheduled to appear Tuesday in U.S. District Court in the eastern district of Tennessee in Knoxville for a jury trial, but according to court records Downsbrough pleaded guilty last Wednesday to two charges of possession of child pornography.
Downsbrough pleaded guilty to knowingly receiving material containing child pornography, which carries a sentence of five to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
He also pleaded guilty to knowingly possessing child pornography, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. In exchange for the guilty pleas two additional charges against Downsbrough have been dropped.
Downsbrough is scheduled for sentencing on March 13, 2014. Prosecutors say they will recommend a sentence of 10 years, according to reports by ABC’s local affiliate WATE-TV in Knoxville.
The charges against Downsbrough, who owns two lots in the Valley of the Blue subdivision in Breckenridge, according to Summit County Assessor’s Office data, stem from an investigation that began in 2012. In November of that year U.S. Postal Service agent John Bowden and Knoxville Police Department investigator Tom Evans executed a search warrant of Bowden’s home, according to court records.
During the search of Downsbrough’s home, Department of Justice officials seized more than 20,000 child pornography images and movies the former UT official downloaded from the Internet or received in the mail, according to court records.
During a follow-up interview at his University of Tennessee office, Downsbrough told the investigators he had pleaded guilty in 1986 to molesting two boys in Colorado, according to Evans’ court testimony earlier this year.
Downsbrough pleaded guilty in those two cases to sexual assault on a child and sexual assault in the third degree in Boulder District Court. The victims in both cases were young boys, according to court records.
Downsbrough was granted a two-year deferred sentence in one case, according to court records. He was sentenced to two years probation in the second.
Although Downsbrough was allowed to keep his job during the initial stages of the investigation, he was terminated from his position as University of Tennessee Foundation CEO in May when a federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment against him.