A Heber Springs man faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to a child pornography charge tied to his receipt of nude photos of a teenager he met through a gymnastics studio he owned, authorities said.
Matthew Tinkle entered the plea Thursday in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, acknowledging in a plea agreement that had two other charges dropped that he "knowingly received" multiple depictions of child pornography.
Authorities say the investigation began when Heber Springs police in 2012 were called to Tinkle's home to investigate a report of a 13-year-old girl who had been molested.
The youth and Tinkle met at Tink's Tumblers, a gymnastics studio he owned at the time, and she later told authorities she had sent him nude photos by text, U.S. Attorney Christopher Thyer said in a statement.
Authorities seized Tinkle's iPhone and found "images of the minor that met the federal definition of child pornography," the statement added.
In addition to the federal case, Tinkle in February entered a no contest plea in Cleburne County to a charge a rape.
“This case illustrates the necessity of keeping lines of communication open and active with your children,” Thyer said in the statement. “We place our children in the care of others with the intent that their lives are safe and their innocence protected. The vast majority of the time, that is the case. When it is not, it is often a parent who discovers the violation. Thankfully, law enforcement was contacted and the end result is that this child predator will be serving federal time as well as state time."
Tinkle will be sentenced in federal court at a later date.