A Simpson County man with a prior conviction for attempting to rape a 3-year-old was sentenced to prison for 15 years in a child sexual exploitation case featuring materials a judge described as “nothing short of reprehensible.”

Barret Lawrence, 38, of Franklin, received the sentence Wednesday in U.S. District Court after pleading guilty to charges of receiving child pornography, attempted receipt of child pornography, possession of child pornography and accessing with the intent to view child pornography.

Prior to being charged in this case, Lawrence was found guilty in 2000 by a jury in Warren Circuit Court of a count of first-degree attempted rape.

Lawrence was accused in that case of attempting to sexually assault a 3-year-old girl in 1999 in a bathroom at Alvaton Church of Christ. Sentenced to 20 years in that case, Lawrence was released from prison in 2010, but federal prosecutors said that he began attempting to access websites featuring images of child sexual exploitation within a few years.

“We have some of the worst variety of what might be available on the internet here in this case,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Zimdahl said in court Wednesday when describing the evidence collected in the investigation. “The defendant poses a very serious risk to children.”

An investigation by the FBI found that Lawrence had accessed a website in 2019 that focused on sharing images and videos of child sexual abuse, with users required to create an account to access most of the material, according to court records.

FBI agents executed a search warrant at Lawrence’s residence last year, which led to the seizure of computers and a memory card found to contain images and videos of child sexual abuse that Lawrence began accessing in 2014, court records show.

At his sentencing, Lawrence apologized for his actions.

“My family have been more than supportive considering all that I have done,” Lawrence said. “I am sorry and I don’t know what else to do.”

Zimdahl said that four people identified as victims have asked for restitution, and prosecutors wanted Lawrence to pay $3,000 in restitution to each of the four victims who filed paperwork requesting payment.

Filings in the federal case indicated that Lawrence accessed materials of children believed to be as young as 3 years old depicting them sexually abused.

U.S. District Court Senior Judge Greg Stivers said the written descriptions of the materials provided by federal prosecutors were disturbing.

“I just couldn’t frankly believe what I was reading,” Stivers said in court. “There’s nothing more shameful than hurting a child, and I don’t understand how a person can derive gratification from those images.”

After serving his 15-year sentence, Lawrence will be on supervised release for the rest of his life.

– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.