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A former South Western School District teacher must spend five years on probation for possessing child pornography nine years ago.

Matthew William Krapf, 39, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, appeared Monday in York County Court for sentencing after pleading guilty in April to the third-degree felony of possession of child pornography.

Krapf apologized in court, saying that when he was first investigated, "I thought that my life was over."

But he said he now knows better, having been in counseling for years to improve himself.

"I've worked hard to become a different person," he told presiding Common Pleas Judge Gregory M. Snyder, adding he "continues to work on being the best person I can be."

Sought help: Defense attorney Terrence McGowan told the judge that Krapf sought counseling voluntarily in 2009, has been in counseling since and earned a master's degree in 2012.

McGowan later told The York Dispatch that Krapf's master's degree and current job have nothing to do with teaching or children.

Deputy prosecutor Alissa Cardenas noted that a pre-sentence investigation recommended the five-year probationary sentence, which she said her office didn't oppose.

The standard guideline range for the crime for someone with no prior record ranges from probation on the low end to nine months in prison, the judge noted.

"This has been a black cloud over his head for eight years," McGowan told Judge Snyder, adding Krapf has already "beat himself up" more than anyone else could have and now has a handle on his issue.

Not 'victimless' crime: Snyder said Krapf has taken "proactive steps" to improve himself and address his issue, but added child pornography is not a victimless crime.

"How about these kids (in the images)? Do they have a handle on the issue?" Snyder asked. "Have they moved on with their lives?"

The judge sentenced Krapf to the recommended five years of probation, noted that sexual-offender probation conditions apply and said he has no objection to Krapf's probation being transferred to New Hampshire.

An examination by state experts determined Krapf is not a sexually violent predator, Cardenas told the judge.

McGowan said despite that, Krapf must register with state police as a Megan's Law sex offender for 15 years.

The background: Krapf used to be a teacher at Baresville Elementary School just outside Hanover in Penn Township, but he resigned a short time after investigators searched his computer in April 2009, according to state police.

In November 2008, state police began investigating a computer that had shared 64 files on a peer-to-peer sharing network, including one identified as child pornography, according to court documents.

Investigators tracked the computer IP address to Krapf's former home on Wool Mill Road in Manheim Township, police said. They obtained a search warrant and seized Krapf's computer on April 1, 2009.

Krapf asked what was expected to come from the investigation, and he was told that possession of child porn is a felony and that charges would most likely be filed, according to police.

"My life is over," Krapf said, according to court documents.

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Images found: Police said they found more than 50 videos of child pornography and more than 275 "glamour-type" photos of young girls in limited clothing on his hard drive. The girls found in some of the videos on his computer were as young as 9 and 11 years old.

A state police spokesman said years passed before charges were filed because at one point the FBI took over the case in hopes of prosecuting Krapf federally. That never happened, and the case eventually was sent back to state police.

Because of transfers and retirements, the case changed hands on the state police level as well, according to the spokesman.

Krapf was in his 10th year of teaching when he resigned on April 8, 2009.

Removed: South Western School District officials have said Krapf resigned shortly after the investigation began and that the district had no reason to believe Krapf committed any wrongdoing while on the job.

Krapf was immediately removed from his position when the district was informed of the investigation, the district said in a release at the time.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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