Pediatrician gets more than 12 years in prison for child pornography charges

A former Arkansas pediatrician admitted in federal court Thursday morning his actions were “horrid” prior to being sentenced to more than 12 years in prison on child pornography charges.

Yancy Craft, a 43-year-old Mississippi native who was living with his cousins in Columbus at the time of his arrest by the FBI in 2011, was sentenced to 151 months in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land.

A 2005 graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine, Craft never practiced in Columbus.

Addressing the court, Craft said the time since his guilty plea more than 18 months ago has given him the opportunity to “come out of my chaos.”“I know God forgives me,” Craft said. “No matter what happens, it will all be OK.”

With his voice cracking, Craft said he apologized to society and said it was hard to forgive himself.

“This is not who I am,” Craft told the court.

Land was stone faced on the bench as Craft spoke. The judge asked Craft if he was involved with child pornography while he was practicing medicine. Craft told the court he was not.

Land, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mel Hyde and defense attorney Richard Hagler had a lengthy discussion about the sentencing guidelines. Shortly after his arrest in November 2011, Craft told the FBI he could have “possibly thousands” of illicit images on his computer.

However, when he pleaded guilty in January 2012, Craft admitted to possession of three images of children engaged in sexual conduct with adults. In the time between the guilty plea and Thursday’s sentencing, a forensic investigation of Craft’s computer showed he had more than 3,900 illicit images.

The U.S. attorney’s office recommended a sentence between seven and nine years based on the three images it could prove at the time of the plea. The 3,900 images would carry a sentence between more than 12 and more than 15 years in prison.

Hyde reluctantly told the judge that he was sticking by the lesser sentencing guidelines in the plea deal.

“No one is more disgusted by the defendant’s actions than I am,” Hyde told the court. “But I have to go back to what I agreed to.”Hagler argued that Land should honor the prior deal.

“He was not a distributor, he was a receiver,” Hagler told the court.

The judge responded, “there is a difference between a person who has three images and a person who has 3,900 images.”

Land said he was not obligated to honor the agreement and handed out a stricter sentence “based on the number of images the defendant had stored on his computer.”

Craft was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome during a pre-sentencing mental evaluation, Hagler said. The condition is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication.

“That is something that is in play here,” Hagler said.

Craft told the court he was a practicing pediatrician for about two months. He came to Columbus when he was terminated from his physician’s job.

After graduating from medical school, Craft did his residency at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. Craft has surrendered his Arkansas medical license, Hagler told the court.

In addition to the prison time, Land sentenced Craft to 25 years of supervised probation on his release.