Ex-NC firefighter pleads guilty after sexual images of children found on computer

Aaron Lanning in a photo from WSPA.

FLETCHER, N.C. (WSPA) – A former Fletcher firefighter has pleaded guilty to five counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, according to District Attorney Greg Newman.

Aaron Lanning, 39, of Hoopers Creek Road was sentenced last week to 51 months (4 years and 3 months) in prison.

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Newman refused to offer a reduced plea, according to the report.

Investigators say Lanning had sexually explicit images of underage children on his computer at the Fletcher Fire Department.

“The images on his computer, which he admitted were his, were very disturbing,” said Newman.

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“The images portrayed young boys and girls engaged in a variety of sexual acts and lewd poses. Their ages ranged from 5 to 11. I wish I knew who produced this filth. Clearly, these kids are being abused and exploited for the gratification of sick individuals. What I saw was appalling,” Newman added.

Investigators say Lanning used a computer chat room to express his sexual interest in younger girls.

He was identified by an agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in another region of the country.

Investigators say Lanning was interviewed by both federal agents and Henderson County Sheriff’s investigators when he was confronted with his comments.

Officials say a search of his workplace computer found the illegal images.

He was fired from his job at the fire department and has been living in Alabama most recently, according to Newman.

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