A former Montgomery County sheriff’s deputy was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison Wednesday, after confessing to swapping graphic photos and videos of minors, some as young as toddlers, online.

Matthew Laver, a 38-year-old Army veteran, apologized to his family and those pictured in his pornography collection during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson. He lamented the damage his crimes had caused to his reputation.

“It’s a little bit different to be looking out the window of a prison to see a U.S. flag flying, when you’re used to seeing it from the other side,” he said. “I’ve lost my career, I’ve lost my personal property, and most of all, I’ve lost my integrity.”

Montgomery County investigators first uncovered Laver’s illicit habit as part of an investigation of the online trade of child pornography over file-sharing services in the county.

Investigators found nearly 4,000 images of children — some in sadomasochistic photos and videos — on a computer, an external hard drive, and his phone. The collection, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rotella said, had been compiled over a decade and overlapped with Laver’s tenure working in the Sheriff’s Office.

Still, “the fact that he was committing these crimes, while he was working in law enforcement is just … ,” Rotella said, pausing midsentence in court. “I don’t even know what to say. It’s an abomination.”

When deputies first showed up at his house in Souderton in 2018, Laver told them he had inadvertently downloaded the child porn found on his devices. But he quickly reversed that statement, confessed, and agreed to plead guilty.

Laver’s lawyer, federal public defender Maranna J. Meehan, cited his quick turnaround and previous service to his country and county in pressing the judge to impose a more lenient sentence in his case.

In addition to his stints in the military and law enforcement, she said, Laver has also worked for the U.S. Postal Service.

“He has tremendous work history and tremendous family support,” she said. “I think the court can be confident that he will never reoffend. This [experience] has terrified him and he’s demonstrably remorseful.”

Rotella noted in court filings that Laver was fired from his job at the Sheriff’s Office in 2015 for a series of infractions including poor attendance, repeated suspensions and the defacement of a photograph of the state attorney general.

But Baylson appeared swayed by letters submitted by several people who appeared in Laver’s pornography collection. The former deputy may not have known any of them and may not have produced any of the media depicting their sexual abuse that he downloaded from the internet, yet each considered themselves to be his victims.

“She cannot have an online presence, because men identify her from those pictures of her abuse and harass her," wrote the mother of one, describing her daughter’s life since. “Some have even sent her pictures of the abuse she endured as a child. ... We received 12,000 emails last year and already over 7,000 this year regarding cases.”

Another victim described dealing with the wide dissemination of images depicting her abuse as a “full time job” all these years later — one that has colored every aspect of her life.

“Unlike other forms of exploitation, this one is never ending,” she wrote. “Every day, people are trading and sharing videos of me as a little girl being raped in the most sadistic ways. They don’t know me, but they have seen, every part of me. They are being entertained by my shame and pain.”

In addition to his prison term, Laver must serve 10 years’ probation upon his release and register as a sex offender. He has remained in custody since his 2018 arrest. Baylson also ordered the former deputy to pay $3,000 in restitution to one of the individuals who filed a claim with the government after appearing in a video in his collection.