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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Ex-Liberty Lake pastor starts prison term for child porn

A former Liberty Lake youth pastor and YMCA swim coach who distributed child pornography is scheduled to begin a five-year federal prison sentence in Sheridan, Ore.

Lonnie W. Castillo, 50, of Liberty Lake, agreed late last year to plead guilty to the charge in exchange for the dismissal of another charge of possession of some 37 images and six videos showing child pornography.

U.S. District Judge Frem Nielsen sentenced Castillo on Feb. 26 to the statutory minimum of five years in prison. Castillo was allowed to delay his reporting to prison until today.

According to court records and newspaper archives, Castillo came to Liberty Lake in 1992 to serve as the youth pastor at Liberty Lake Community Church. He also later became a swim coach at Spokane Valley YMCA.

The investigation that led to Castillo’s guilty plea started in March 2011 when a U.S. Secret Service agent conducted an online investigation that revealed downloaded images showing young children in sex acts. Those images were later traced to Castillo’s computer and he confessed to possessing and distributing child pornography, according to court records.

A search of the computer found several images and videos, some of which Castillo shared with others, according to the case prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Lister.

“At least one of the videos shows bondage, and a number of the images are child pornography images of children under the age of 12 years,” court records state.

Once released, Castillo must register as a sex offender and, other than his children, have no contact with minors without another adult present and advance approval. He will not be allowed to live or loiter within 1,000 feet of where children congregate and must allow random searches of his electronic devices.

Castillo’s attorney, Rob Cossey, could not be reached Monday. Castillo’s case file had several letters from friends and family who told Nielsen of Castillo’s character.

His brother-in-law, Michael Savre, a state judge in Minnesota, wrote that he’d known Castillo for 30 years.

“Lonnie and his wife … have been too embarrassed to share those details with family,” Savre wrote. “What I do know from first-hand observation over many years is that Lonnie is, to put it simply, a good man.”

Castillo’s daughter described a man committed to his family.

“He treated every child I saw him encounter with the same respect and paternal kindness,” she wrote. “For this reason, I know he does not deserve to be sent to jail or be marked for a lifetime as a sex offender.”