Gentry Sex Offender Arrested On Child Porn Charge

GENTRY (KFSM) — A Level 3 sex offender is accused of looking at child pornography dozens of times despite telling investigators he stumbled upon the images accidentally.

Christopher Allen Shepard, 45, was arrested Tuesday (July 3) in connection with distributing, possessing or viewing child pornography — a Class C felony.

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office received a tip in June via the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that a local internet user had accessed child porn, and investigators traced the account to Shepard’s address on West Arkansas 12 in Gentry, according to a probable case affidavit.

Investigators later met Shepard at his home, where he told them he uses his phone to look at pornography while on break at work, typically searching for “girls that look underage that aren’t,” according to the affidavit.

Shepard said that if he found an image or video where the girls looked under 18, he would exit the link.

However, after searching Shepard’s cell phone, investigators found dozens of search terms for child pornography, along with more than 50 hyperlinks that led to active child porn images — including victims as young as 3 years old, according to the affidavit.

As a Level 3 sex offender, Shepard is considered “high risk,” and offenders in this category usually have a history of “repeat sexual offending,” according to the Arkansas Crime Information Center.

Shepard was being held Thursday (July 5) at the Benton County Jail on a $100,000 bond. He has a hearing set for Aug. 13 in Benton County Circuit Court.

Class C felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000, according to Arkansas Code Annotated 5-4-401.

In Arkansas, sex offenders are assigned to one of four levels based on a risk assessment process: Level 1: low risk; Level 2: moderate risk; Level 3: high risk; Level 4: sexually violent predator.

State law also requires registered sex offenders to publicly disclose their name, address and date of birth.

There are more than 11,000 registered sex offenders living in Arkansas, according to the state crime information center.

The most recent data show 567 registered sex offenders living in Washington County, while 547 were listed for Benton County.