A Shawnee man who served as a pastor before his arrest in a child pornography investigation earlier this month pleaded guilty Thursday a federal charge involving sexual exploitation of children.
Jerry D. Barham, 66, was charged last week in U.S. District Court, Western District of Oklahoma, and pleaded guilty on Thursday to aiding and abetting production of child pornography, a U.S. Attorney’s spokesperson said.
Barham appeared for a hearing in federal court, where he accepted a plea agreement. A sentencing date hasn’t been scheduled, but is expected in about 90 days. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and could face as much as 30 years, court documents show, along with a fine of $250,000. The plea also shows he will enter into an order of restitution to all victims in the case. Barham remains in federal custody.
A few days before Barham was formally charged, a federal grand jury returned indictments against Melissa R. Loman, 33, Shawnee, who also was arrested as part of the investigation.
Barham is accused, between April 19, 2011 and Jan. 7, 2013, of using a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depictions. He is accused of giving financial benefits to Loman in exchange for her producing visual depictions of minors engaging in explicit conduct and then transmitting those from her cell phone to his cell phone, the documents show.
According to the guilty plea, Barham pleaded guilty and admitted that Loman used a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing depictions of such conduct and that they were transmitted to him. He further had to admit that he “associated himself with the crime and intentionally participated in it as he would in something he wished to bring about by giving Loman financial benefit in exchange for her producing child pornography and transmitting it via text message from her cell phone to his cell phone,” the plea agreement reads.
While Barham's charge was filed by federal prosecutors, Loman's 19 indictments for production of child pornography and aiding and abetting were handed down by a federal grand jury and her case is still progressing through federal court.
Barham and Loman were both arrested in early February by the FBI as part of an investigation. A couple days after the arrest, an official website for Grace Fellowship New Testament Church in Shawnee, 1108 N. Kickapoo, listed Barham as one of its pastors, but the site was then taken offline.
Following the arrest, a written statement issued by a spokesperson on behalf of the church indicated that Barham “mainly assisted the worship leader with music,” and with occasional preaching following his retirement from a local bank.
Page 2 of 2 - “What happened in this regrettable incident was outside the church,” the statement reads. “We have great respect for the family in this difficult matter,” the statement continued, with nothing further to add.
Watch for updates.