Former Minister Gets Seven Years for Solicitation

A former Dallas-area minister has been sentenced to prison time after he came to Bryan intending on meeting with a 13-year-old girl for sex.

Tuesday, Joe Barron was sentenced to seven years behind bars following a plea deal reached earlier this month. Barron must serve a quarter of the sentence before he is eligible for parole, and has to register as a sex offender for ten years after his release.

Barron, 53, was arrested in May 2008 when he came to Bryan. Police had been chatting with Barron online, though Barron thought he was conversing with a 13-year-old girl. In those chats, Barron agreed to meet with the "teen" for sex.

When he was arrested, the former minister of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano had a webcam, condoms and a cell phone. On that phone, police say, were text conversations similar to the one that had led him to Bryan.

Tuesday's hearing lasted less than a minute. Barron and his attorney, Billy Carter, made no statements during the proceedings.

The presiding judge was Travis Bryan III.

"I wish you the best, sir," the judge told Barron, who was accompanied by his family.

"Thank you," Barron replied.

"This is a man who has not had any criminal history at all," said Shane Phelps, the first assistant district attorney for Brazos County. " He's in his 50s. I think seven years in prison is a pretty stout sentence for him to get, and I think it's an important part of our on-going effort by the Bryan Police Department, the College Station Police Department, the District Attorney's Office to really send a strong message that we really don't care who you are. If you're soliciting minors online, you've got to go to prison in this county."

Carter said his client had come to grips with the fact that he would be serving time for his crime.

"He's going to prison. We've discussed all that," Carter said. "He's ready to do that and make the best of this what he can, and I know he will."


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