Keith Bell, 55, a pastor with the Church of God in Upper Strasburg, changed his no contest plea to a guilty plea before a packed courtroom in Cumberland County Courthouse on Tuesday morning. Prior to the lengthy sentencing hearing, the Shippensburg man had previously pleaded no contest,
saying he was hacked but could not prove someone else accessed his computer.
Bell was sentenced to three to 23 months in county prison and he must pay court costs as a result of the guilty plea on two counts of possession of child pornography. A mandatory psychological evaluation showed that Bell was not a risk of being violent sexual predator, but as a condition of the conviction he must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Half of Judge Edward E. Guido’s courtroom was comprised of supporters of the pastor, several of whom were schedule to speak prior to the change in plea. Initially, Guido said he had a hard time sending Bell to county prison, noting the numerous letters of support he read for the pastor and Bell’s steadfast claims of innocence.