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Robert Dale Barkman

LINDEN, Texas — A retired Atlanta, Texas, middle school teacher who was working at an area church as secretary and youth leader when he was arrested last year as part of a child pornography investigation was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison.

Robert Dale Barkman, 66, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of promotion of child pornography and a single count of possession of child pornography, Cass County District Attorney Courtney Shelton said. Barkman was sentenced to three 10-year terms which he was ordered to serve consecutively.

An investigation into Barkman began in early June 2019 when images were discovered on his computer at a local church where he served as youth leader and secretary. The computer was taken to the Cass County District Attorney's cybercrime lab for analysis.

Hundreds of images found on the church computer led authorities to acquire a search warrant for Barkman's home. Upon forensic examination of Barkman's personal computers and other electronic devices, hundreds more images depicting the sexual exploitation of children were found.

"According to investigators, it appeared that Barkman has been creating and holding child pornography since the early 2000s. Barkman is believed to have deleted images and disposed of recording devices prior to investigators running the search warrant, while knowing the investigation was ongoing," an August 2019 press release from the Cass County D.A.'s Office states.

Shelton said she hopes the resolution of the case gives Barkman's victims some comfort.

"While 30 years penitentiary time was enough to give these victims a little bit of the closure they needed, there is no amount of time that can account for the betrayal of trust they felt from this man," Shelton said. "Dale Barkman used his position in the community and the church to pull the wool over people's eyes. We are grateful that his true character has been revealed, and that he will no longer be a threat to the community."

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