Monday, June 18, 2007

Shaffer reverses plea, seeks lesser sentence - 18 June 2007


A former campus minister charged with soliciting sex from a minor has struck a deal with federal prosecutors, seeking a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.

In the eight-page agreement, Charles B. Shaffer pleaded guilty to sending an obscene photo across the Internet, specifically, a picture of his genitalia. According to court documents, Shaffer thought the recipient was a 13-year-old girl.

The plea, filed June 11, is a reversal from an initial "not guilty" plea. The original charge against Shaffer carried a maximum of 30 years in prison; the new charge has a maximum of five years behind bars, up to $250,000 and three years of supervised release.

Shaffer's attorney submitted instructions and questions to be used in determining a jury, typical in a criminal trial, just one week before the new deal. Shaffer also waived his right to a jury trial.

However, there is no guarantee that the court will accept the agreement.

Shaffer was an outreach minister for the South College Church of Christ and led the Redmen for Christ ministry, a component of the church. He resigned from his post after being arrested.

He was also a network manager with university technical services and is still employed on a technicality. Shaffer was placed on administrative leave, where he will remain until the court hands down a verdict. He is currently not receiving pay or benefits.

FBI agents arrested Shaffer Feb. 2 in a sting designed to capture individuals seeking to have sex with minors. An affidavit states an undercover agent with had chatted online with Shaffer at times during the January and February. Shaffer then traveled to Walters, Okla., to meet up with the undercover.

It is unclear what prompted the reversal. His lawyer, public defender William Earley, could not be reached.