Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel sentenced on child pornography charges after decades of abuse

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ASHEVILLE, NC (WSPA) – A retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel has been sentenced on child pornogrpahy charges after officials say he abused children for decades. 

77-year-old Paul Delavan Knoke, of Asheville, was sentenced to 180 months in prison, according to U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray.

An investigation revealed that Knoke possessed an extensive collection of sexually explicit images of minor males which he shared with other offenders, records said.

“For decades, Knoke inflicted horrific and sustained sexual abuse upon innocent children entrusted in his care,” U.S. Attorney Murray said. “When Knoke wasn’t physically abusing children, he was turning to a digital screen to view and share child pornography. As result of the 15 -year sentence imposed today, there will be one less sexual predator among us.”

According to court records, Knoke admitted that he sexually abused at least eight minors entrusted in his care at various times for more than three decades.

Investigators estimate that Knoke committed over 1,500 contact offenses against the children in his care. He pleaded guilty in August 2018 to five counts of receipt of child pornography, three counts of distribution of child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography. 

Knoke has been in federal custody since June 2018 and will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender after he is released from prison. 

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