John Grisham speaks during a television interview in New York in 2012.
Scott Eells—Bloomberg/Getty Images
October 16, 2014 12:38 PM EDT

Best-selling author John Grisham has apologized for remarks he made criticizing harsh punishments for people convicted of watching child pornography.

“Anyone who harms a child for profit or pleasure, or who in any way participates in child pornography—online or otherwise—should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Grisham said in a statement on his website Thursday. “My comments made two days ago during an interview with the British newspaper The Telegraph were in no way intended to show sympathy for those convicted of sex crimes, especially the sexual molestation of children. I can think of nothing more despicable.”

Grisham previously told the paper that there were men in prison who “probably had too much to drink” and “got online one night” and stumbled onto child pornography. He said a similar situation happened to a “good buddy from law school.”

“I have no sympathy for real paedophiles,” he told The Telegraph. “God, please lock those people up. But so many of these guys do not deserve harsh prison sentences, and that’s what they’re getting.”

Write to Nolan Feeney at nolan.feeney@time.com.

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