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Forest man sentenced to nearly 4 years on child porn, sexual battery charges

BEDFORD — A Forest man was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to two counts of producing child pornography and one count of aggravated sexual battery in a case involving a minor.

Warren John Norris, 74, was arrested in November 2019 following an investigation by the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office Southern Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. He faced 10 felonies overall but seven of those, all production of child porn second or subsequent offense charges, were dropped during a hearing in Bedford County Circuit Court on Tuesday following the defendant’s guilty pleas.

Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance said the events in the case occurred from July 2018 to July 2019 with an underage victim who Norris had a physical relationship with in and out of the county. The investigation led to the seizure of digital devices and a computer on which the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force found images, Nance said.

The victim and ICAC investigators would have testified if the case proceeded to trial, Nance said.

Norris’ attorney, Joseph Sanzone, said the defense would have contended at trial there is documentation to challenge the victim was underage, while Nance said the commonwealth’s position is the victim was a minor at the time of the offenses.

“This is a complicated criminal case,” Sanzone said in court to Judge James Updike.

Sanzone said the defense felt the plea agreement is a “compromise” in Norris’ best interests. Nance also referred to the plea deal as a compromise that kept the victim from having to testify in court.

Updike suspended more than 32 years of prison time for Norris on conditions that he be on good behavior for eight years, have no contact with the victim, register as a sex offender and have no unsupervised contact with minors.

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