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CBN engineer denies pre-empting soft-porn movies

By MITCHELL MILLER

NORFOLK, Va. -- A Christian Broadcasting Network technician accused of interrupting soft-porn programming acknowledged he disliked racy movies Wednesday but denied sending out religious messages to pre- empt them.

The Justice Department has accused Thomas Haynie of Virginia Beach of using a CBN earth station to send religious messages that appeared Sept. 6, 1987 on the American Exxxtasy Channel and the Playboy Channel.

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Haynie, 38, testified in U.S. District Court he had nothing to do with the incident and did not know who was responsible.

'I didn't do those interference episodes,' said Haynie, when asked by one of his attorneys, Hunter Sims, whether he was guilty. 'I know it didn't happen at CBN.'

Haynie, a satellite maintenance engineer who has worked at CBN for about five years, said he regularly attends church. But he said he would not impose his personal beliefs regarding pornography on others.

'I don't like to watch pornography myself, but it's the right for people to watch what they want to watch,' said Haynie.

Haynie also said he did not know how to operate a character generator at CBN that prosecutors charge was used to send out the messages, which occurred about two hours apart on a Sunday night. One message read:

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'Thus sayeth the Lord thy God. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand!'

Haynie acknowledged he was the only one working at the CBN earth station the night of Sept. 6, 1987. His shift lasted from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. The incidents were reported around 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Federal prosecutor James Wilson spent only a few minutes cross- examining Haynie. Haynie confirmed he would have access to CBN records that would show the capacity necessary to reach a satellite.

The prosecution contends a wide range of technical tests done in conjunction with the Federal Communications Commission narrowed the source of the unauthorized signal interruption to CBN's earth station.

But a defense witness testified Wednesday that it is extremely difficult to identify the source of an unauthorized signal. Fred Poteet, of Satellite Systems Corp. in Virginia Beach, said it was 'next to impossible' to identify the exact source of a signal that overrides a legitimate signal.

The prosecution spent much of the afternoon calling rebuttal witnesses. Closing arguments were set for Friday morning.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Smith denied defense motions for acquittal, but indicated she was concerned some charges might overlap.

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Haynie has pleaded innocent to three felony counts of interfering with the operation of a satellite and three misdemeanor counts of violating a license for radio communication. Each of the felony counts carries up to a 10-year prison term.

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