The child-pornography investigation has sparked a growing social and legal controversy over the FBI’s tactics and the impact on internet privacy.

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One of three defendants who had challenged the legality of “Operation Playpen,” the controversial FBI sting in which agents took over and operated a “dark-web” child-pornography site, has pleaded guilty to the crime for a second time.

Bruce Lorente, 58, of Seattle, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to a single count of possession of child pornography, a federal felony with a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan, adopting the joint recommendation of the defense and federal prosecutions, immediately sentenced Lorente to the time he has served since his arrest in July 2015.

Bryan, who has been harshly critical of the Department of Justice and the FBI for the methods employed in the international investigation, ordered that Lorente be moved from the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac to a halfway house as soon as a bed becomes available.

A second count was dismissed as part of the plea deal, according to the agreement. Lorente also will be required to register as a sex offender and be under federal court supervision for 15 years.

It is the second time Lorente has pleaded guilty to the crime. In July, he was allowed to withdraw a guilty plea he had entered three months earlier after Bryan raised constitutional and procedural concerns about the Operation Pacifier investigation.

However, in a letter written last May but submitted to Bryan on Monday, Lorente said “I accept full responsibility for the crime,” but asked the court for leniency due to deteriorating health.

Lorente said he had “deluded” himself into believing child pornography was a “victimless crime,” but says he knows otherwise now.

“I am grieved in my soul to think that I actually did something to make this problem worse and increase the suffering of the victims by viewing this material,” he said.

Federal Public Defender Colin Fieman, Lorente’s attorney, acknowledged his client “got a good deal” considering the amount of time he was potentially facing. The second plea bargain was an improvement over the first, he added.

Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said prosecutors were pleased Lorente will remain under federal probation and supervision for the next 15 years, into his 70s, and will be required to register as a sex offender.

“These conditions will provide protections for the community and ensure that the defendant receives treatment,” she said.

Cases against two others caught up in Operation Pacifier — David Tippens and Gerald Lesan — are ongoing. Bryan has suppressed evidence in a fourth case, against a former Vancouver, Wash., school employee named Jay Michaud — although Bryan has not formally dismissed the case against him, Fieman said.

Fieman credits the lenient sentence on the trouble the cases have caused the government, here and elsewhere. The broad scope of the investigation and competing opinions on the legality of the operation almost assure a review of some of the issues by the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to court documents, Lorente was one of more than 214 people nationwide indicted in connection with Operation Pacifier, a sting operation in which FBI agents in Virginia took over and operated a dark-web child pornography site called “The Playpen.”

Defense attorneys have alleged — and Bryan has concluded — that for nearly two weeks the bureau engaged in “outrageous conduct” and became one of the world’s largest purveyor’s of child pornography while gathering evidence to prosecute the people looking at it.

Bryan and other federal judges have also questioned the legality of the single FBI search warrant filed in Virginia but used to search tens of thousands of computers around the country.

He has already suppressed evidence against Michaud because the FBI refused to turn over the secret software it used to penetrate the so-called dark web.