A man who distributed child pornography using Internet access at the Ashland library has been sentenced to 40 years in federal prison.

A man who distributed child pornography using Internet access at the Ashland library has been sentenced to 40 years in federal prison.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Owen M. Panner sentenced Thomas William Crimmins, 54, of Ashland, to 40 years in federal prison and a lifetime of parole if he is released.

Crimmins pleaded guilty Feb. 13 to 10 felony counts of possession, mailing and distribution of child pornography.

In June 2010, a detective with the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force determined that Crimmins was sending child pornography to a website that enables users to share images. Crimmins used the Internet at the Ashland library and two local coffee shops to send some of the images, prosecutors said in a news release.

On March 30, 2011, detectives saw Crimmins at the library running the file-sharing program he had used to share photographs and videos of child sexual abuse his laptop computer. They arrested him and obtained a search warrant for his computers, finding more than 1,974 images and 421 videos of child sexual abuse, the news release said.

Agents also found evidence that Crimmins distributed the images across the United States and the world. Crimmins' emails showed a pattern of recruiting and encouraging others to sexually abuse children and corresponding with individuals who identified themselves as minors, inviting them to visit him to have sex.

"This defendant exemplifies the connection between people who view images of child sexual abuse and people who prey on children," U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall said in a prepared statement released after Crimmins' sentencing.

She explained that people who investigate, prosecute and treat child sexual abuse have come to understand that child pornography is not just "dirty pictures," but documentation of abuse.

Crimmins has prior convictions for attempted second-degree child molestation in 1995 in Washington, and failure to register as a sex offender in 2003 in Oregon. At the sentencing hearing, the prosecution produced evidence that Crimmins had sexually abused at least five girls in the past. Two of the victims testified at the sentencing hearing, prosecutors said in today's news release.

"Those who find pleasure in viewing such images pose a danger to any child unfortunate enough to come into contact with these perpetrators," Marshall's statement continued. "The 40-year sentence in this case will ensure that this defendant can't hurt any more children."

In addition to the prison sentence, the court also ordered forfeiture of Crimmins laptop, camera and other equipment used to facilitate his crimes. He has been in custody since his arrest on March 30, 2011.

This case was investigated by the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force, made up of the FBI, Medford Police Department, Ashland Police Department, Grants Pass Police Department, Klamath Falls Police Department, Central Point Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff's Office, and the Department of Homeland Security. Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Harper prosecuted.