Neighbors in Disbelief Anderson Co. Man Accused as Child Pornography Ringleader

People in the small Anderson County community of Carroll Springs know Mark Bates as a nice man, not the alleged child sexual pornographer the FBI says he, and some 90 others nationwide are.

"Just shocked, when I first heard the news this morning," says Linda Hanks, Bates' neighbor.         "I thought it was over in Palestine. I first thought that such a small town for something that big, then when you get down here and you say it's right next door, then it's even more shocking, because the young man in question we knew him and he's never offered to be out of the way in anyway."

The FBI continues sweeping in suspects in connection with the child porn ring.  In many cases, the people are thought to be upstanding members of their communities, including two catholic priests, six other members of the clergy, little league coaches, and a school bus driver.

50 more arrests are expected in the next week as a result of the sting targeting members of three Internet discussion groups on the Yahoo website.

The FBI says they traded very explicit, hard core child porn before the sites were shut down.

"Even to indulge in something like that," Daniel Sims, who lives  in Bates' neighborhood says,  "especially on a nationwide scale... that is horrible."

Daniel Sims lives in Bates' neighborhood.  He's not alone in hoping the pornography allegations are not true.

"If it's true, I think it's sick," says Sims.  "I can't believe someone in a community this small, ya' know everybody around here knows everybody, and I can't believe something like this could happen."

Bates' Aunt Shirley Anderton didn't want to go on camera but had this to say, "Mark is a sweet, sweet boy.  He's always been so helpful to people."  Shirley says, "Since [his mother's] husband died a few years ago, she has had to count on Mark a whole lot."

For now Mark Bates is being held in the Smith County Jail on two charges of child pornography, Bates will be back in Tyler Federal Court Thursday for his bond hearing.