In a show of leniency, a federal judge Wednesday sentenced a former pediatric physician to nine months of home confinement for possessing child pornography.

Dr. Julius Goepp (search) agreed to a sentence of up to 2 years and nine months under an agreement with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to possessing sexually explicit images of children on his home computer. He could have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines if convicted.

Goepp pleaded guilty in August and U.S. District Judge David Larimer gave him a lesser sentence, saying Goepp stopped his illegal behavior and sought counseling months before coming under scrutiny.

Goepp was arrested at his home in a sweeping federal crackdown on Internet child porn called Operation Predator (search).

"To whom much is given, much is expected," Larimer told Goepp during the hearing. "Never again get involved in this kind of behavior, which certainly is shameful."

Besides confinement to his suburban Rochester home, Larimer sentenced Goepp, 46, to three years of probation and fined him $5,000.

As he left the courtroom, friends and colleagues hugged him: "I didn't think I was going to see him for a while," said his wife, Tiesha.

Prosecutor Richard Resnick objected to the sentence but acknowledged that Goepp had gotten treatment, and he declined to say whether he would appeal.

Goepp was chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Strong Memorial Hospital (search) until his arrest in May. Goepp lost his medical license and the hospital severed ties with him after he pleaded guilty.

Operation Predator netted more than 3,700 suspected child predators and sex offenders around the country. Federal sentencing guidelines had been stiffened in November 2003 by a child-pornography provision of the Patriot Act (search).