A former high school basketball coach has been sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison for trading child pornography over the Internet.

Rodney Howard, the former head coach for South Salem High School, must report to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons by Jan. 31 to begin serving an 87-month sentence.

Howard pleaded guilty last July to distribution of child pornography.

U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman told Howard during sentencing Wednesday that he helped "perpetuate terrible and tremendous violence and harm against children."

Prosecutors found Howard had shared via e-mail around 37 sexually explicit images of children to other people, some of the pictures involving kids younger than 12.

They also found hundreds of sexually explicit photos of children on his computer's hard drive, Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Nyhus said.

The photos included some labeled from the North American Man-Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA, and pictures from a notorious series of pornographic images featuring a 6-year-old girl, Nyhus said.

Howard, 41, used his America Online account to send and receive the material. When the Internet service provider became suspicious and suspended his account, Howard opened a second account with a different screen name to continue sending child pornography.

Howard had worked with basketball players at North Salem and South Salem high schools starting in the 1993-94 school year. He was hired to be the boys' varsity basketball coach at South Salem High, but never coached a game.

He resigned in September 2005.

Howard apologized in court to the children he coached and mentored as well as the parents who trusted him.

"I have made a terrible and very irresponsible mistake and I have let a lot of people down," Howard told the judge.

A group of about 20 people came to court to show their support for Howard.


Information from: Statesman Journal, http:www.statesmanjournal.com