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Minister gets 7-year sentence

A former Forest Hills minister was sentenced Monday to seven years in federal prison for downloading child pornography into his church computer.

Lawrence Winford Kilbourn, 44, declined an opportunity to speak to the judge before sentence was pronounced. He did wave and smile in the direction of relatives and about a dozen elderly supporters from the congregation he formerly led, Forest Hills United Methodist Church.

Kilbourn still faces a Manatee County charge of sexual battery on an 11-year-old Bradenton girl in 1994. The girl attended a church where Kilbourn formerly worked as a minister before he accepted the Tampa job in June 1998.

Last year Kilbourn's daughter found a videotape that Kilbourn apparently made when he molested the Bradenton girl. Kilbourn's face was not visible on the video, but a hand in the video wore a ring that Kilbourn's daughter recognized.

The discovery of the videotape led to Kilbourn's resignation from his pastorship with the Forest Hills church, which has about 500 members. The shocked congregation was told that Kilbourn had admitted to a "sexual addiction."

"Mr. Kilbourn is seeking treatment and help," one of his attorneys, Chandler R. Muller, said after Monday's sentencing. Muller called the sentence a "just outcome."

U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday sentenced Kilbourn to seven years and three months in prison, to be followed by three years of probation. Conditions of his probation include the requirement that he register with the sexual offender database in Florida or any other state in which he resides, that he not have any direct contact with minors and that he not enter areas frequented by children or access the Internet without written permission from his probation officer.

Earlier this year Kilbourn had pleaded guilty to one charge of downloading child pornography.

A woman who answered the telephone at Forest Hills United Methodist on Monday said no one at the church would comment.

The Rev. Dr. Dave Brazelton, district superintendent for the United Methodist Church of Florida, said that extensive checks by his staff, police and outside experts left him convinced that Kilbourn had harmed no children in Hillsborough County.

"We really feel relieved," Brazelton said. "We've tried to co-operate in every way because we wanted to know the truth."

"This has really hurt," Brazelton said. "I've known Larry since he was a youth director in Tallahassee." _ Larry Dougherty can be reached at (813) 226-3337 or