Republican activist Richard A. Delgaudio, a longtime Northern Virginia-based fundraiser for conservative causes and personalities, was sentenced to two years' probation yesterday after pleading guilty to a child pornography charge.

Delgaudio was charged with taking sexually explicit photographs of a 16-year-old girl. He paid the girl -- a single mother and high school dropout -- by the hour for photo shoots at the Deluxe Plaza Motel in Baltimore, according to court documents and Baltimore City Police Detective Randy Wynn, who investigated the case.

Delgaudio's attorneys issued a statement saying that their client "acknowledges the acute moral shortcomings of his conduct and he will continue intense self-examination, and professional and spiritual counseling." Bruce Fein, a prominent legal commentator helping to defend Delgaudio, also told the judge that Delgaudio plans to donate $5,000 to help "young mothers in great need."

As part of a plea agreement on the felony charge, Baltimore Circuit Court Judge John M. Glynn placed Delgaudio on probation, ruling that if he meets the conditions of probation, the judge will not convict him. But Glynn emphasized that a violation of the terms of probation could lead him to impose the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Glynn added that the ruling also stripped Delgaudio of his ability to appeal.

Glynn ordered Delgaudio not to visit Baltimore's Patterson Park neighborhood, an area police said is known for prostitution, where Delgaudio was picked up by police in November 2001.

Delgaudio declined to comment after yesterday's session. In the courtroom, he told the judge, "I've learned more about the court system than I ever wanted to learn."

Delgaudio, 50, heads an array of conservative activist groups from offices in Fairfax County, according to filings with the Internal Revenue Service. He is listed as president of Legal Affairs Council Inc., which had $2.6 million in revenue in 2001, according to the filings. Delgaudio also is listed as chairman and director of the United States Intelligence Council and president of National Security Center Inc.

Both the prosecution and defense said they were satisfied with the judge's ruling yesterday.

"It certainly sends a message that you can't come into our city and take advantage of our children and take pictures of them," said Assistant State's Attorney Adam C. Rosenberg. "It's an admission of criminal wrongdoing on his part, and it effectively shuts down whatever operation he was engaged in."

But the probation deal also bypassed a series of difficult issues for both sides. A dispute over whether police properly acquired three of Delgaudio's sexually explicit photo albums resulted in the exclusion of the books as evidence, and there were allegations of police misconduct. Yesterday's deal included a commitment by federal prosecutors in Maryland and the Fairfax County commonwealth's attorney not to prosecute Delgaudio based on those books or other facts in the case, Rosenberg said.

Some in the conservative movement criticized Delgaudio.

"I would not want to associate myself with someone who engages in such behavior," said California Assemblyman Ray Haynes (R), whom Delgaudio had recruited to be the honorary chairman of the Western Conservative Conference scheduled for California this summer. Promotional material promised speeches by conservative favorites Edwin Meese III and Robert K. Dornan, among others.

"It's not a good thing, and it's not healthy for the movement," Haynes said.

Delgaudio's brother, Eugene, who runs an anti-gay lobbying group called Public Advocate and is a Loudoun County supervisor, said he did not know of Richard Delgaudio's legal troubles. "It doesn't sound like him," he said.

Staff writers Annie Gowen and Tom Jackman contributed to this report.