GREENBELT, Maryland (AP) -- A journalist got 18 months in prison Monday for distributing child pornography online, despite his claim that he was doing research for a story on child molesters.
Larry Matthews, a National Public Radio producer who said he was working on a free-lance magazine article, had pleaded guilty.
"I believe Mr. Matthews crossed the line", said U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr. "I also believe that it was immoral."
Matthews is the first journalist prosecuted for accessing child porn, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Even before sentencing, Matthews' lawyers said they will appeal.
Williams had refused to allow Matthew to use a First Amendment defense, ruling that reporters aren't free to break the law. The decision prompted Matthews to plead guilty in July to charges of receiving pornographic images on his computer and transmitting child pornography.
The American Civil Liberties Union, National Public Radio, the Radio and Television News Directors Association, and other media groups filed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting him.
"Naive and stupid as it sounds today, I did not know what I was doing was illegal", Matthews said Friday at his sentencing.
The judge said he would recommend Matthews serve his sentence in a halfway house. He was ordered to report to prison in 60 days.