Stephen Spear

Child porn, animal abuse suspect: ‘It’s not like I was murdering someone’

A Hoke County, North Carolina, man charged with multiple counts animal cruelty and more than 110 counts of child porn appeared in court on Friday.

“It’s not like I was murdering someone,” Stephen Joseph Spear, 69, reportedly said while requesting his $228,000 bond be lowered.

According to KTRK, District Court Judge Chris Rhue raised the 69-year-old’s bond to $1 million.

The Haven-Friends for Life owner and his wife were charged with three counts of felony possession of controlled substance and four counts of cruelty to animals following a raid of the no-kill shelter in 2016. According to authorities, 600 animals were removed and they found 15 deceased dogs buried on the property.

“We’ve seen open wounds on animals, we’ve seen no water for the animals, we are seeing animals that seem to be malnourished,” Hoke County Sheriff’s Office Cpt. John Kivett told WTVD last year.

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In February, Spear was hit with child porn charges — 57 counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and 57 counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, WNCN reported. Officials claimed they discovered the images while investigating the animal cruelty accusations.

Judge Rhue raised Spear’s bond due to 2009 child porn charges.

According to WRAL, Spear was an instructor at Fayetteville Technical Community College when he was accused of having illicit photos on his work computer. Authorities claimed he had pictures of girls as young as 7 in sexually explicit poses.

Charged with 18 counts of child pornography, Spear accepted a plea agreement which allowed him to avoid registering as a sex offender. Court records obtained by the Fayetteville Observer indicated he pleaded guilty to three felony counts of disseminating obscene material and was sentenced to 30 months of probation.

The 69-year-old faces life in prison if convicted. His next court date is March 1.

[Feature Photo: Hoke County Sheriff’s Office]