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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: child pornography

Man pleads guilty to child pornography charges in federal court

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly named the man who pleaded guilty Monday. The story has been updated to correct the error.

A Spokane man caught by the Secret Service engaging in online trading of child pornography faces a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to a federal felony charge Monday.

Ryan Raymond Joseph Comerford will have to register as a sex offender in compliance with a plea deal reached in U.S. District Court. Comerford was indicted in September on multiple child pornography counts after a Secret Service sting revealed evidence he was using a peer-to-peer network to receive explicit images and videos featuring children.

Comerford pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released pending trial, which was scheduled for next week. He admitted using marijuana in violation of his release conditions, and was arrested again in January.

Defense attorneys were provided with the digital evidence in the case last month.

As part of the agreement, Comerford will remain on probation for 20 years after his release and be barred from contact with minors. A judge is expected to rule on the agreement in July.

Do you know this child porn peddler?

Federal authorities are trying to identify a woman who is featured in child pornography with victims who have yet to be rescued.

The woman could live anywhere in the United States. She is depicted in several videos discovered in June during a child pornography investigation in Colorado.

  The videos featured two young girls, estimated to be tween 3 and 7 years old, who were also featured in child pornography seized in Los Angeles in June 2011.

 The material found in Colorado appears to be first time investigators could see an adult's face. A man who also is shown sexually abusing the girls digitally obscured his face in the material, making him unrecognizable.

The woman appears to be white, about 25 to 35 years old with a medium building, black to dark brown hair and blues eyes. She has a large mole on the back of her left thigh.

Several of the images were created in February 2010. The material depicts a home “which appears to be of typical North American construction found in several areas of the United States.”

The home has standard North American electrical switches. Agents noted two U.S. Army duffel bags, a U.S. Army poncho liner and U.S. Army desert boots in some of the image. Agents also observed a cardboard box with “Sunkist” written on it and a mattress with “Serta Perfect Sleep” written on it. The book “Animal Tracking Basics” by John Young and Tiffany Morgan is on a nightstand.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says the identities of the victims and perpetrators are unknown, and the victims have yet to be rescued.

Prosecutors in Washington, D.C. issued an arrested warrant this week for the woman on charges of sexual exploitation of children and conspiracy. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigation.

“Jane Doe's information and photos are being distributed through law enforcement channels by the HSI's Victim Identification Unit, HSI Los Angeles and NCMEC in a unified effort to find the perpetrators and rescue the two children,” according to a news release.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-866-347-2423 or submit tips online.

Ex-social worker pleads guilty to child porn

A man who once licensed foster care homes for the state pleaded guilty Friday to two federal counts of distribution of child pornography.

Darrell J. Rogers, who was 51 when he was arrested in April, was indicted following a search of his home in the 7100 block of North Westgate Place in the Indian Trail neighborhood of Spokane.

Rogers admitted using Internet file sharing programs to obtain the pornography, including images of children as young as months old, and denied that he ever inappropriately touched children.

His attorney Matthew Campbell and Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks agreed on a sentencing recommendation of five years in federal prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush set the sentencing for Nov. 13 at 10 a.m.

Hicks said the material federal agents downloaded from Rogers is some of the worst he's encountered in his 36 years of practicing law.

Man gets 15 years for child sex abuse

A Wenatchee man who sexually abused a 6-year-old girl and broadcasted it live on the Internet has been sentenced in Spokane to 15 years in federal prison.

Scott J. Martin, 49, abused the girl at the direction of Christian Webb, a former Minot, North Dakota, school district employee who used a school-assigned Internet connection to help facilitate the crimes. Webb was sentenced in May 2011 to 12 years in prison.

News reports say he regularly contacted pedophiles through Internet chat and persuaded them to sexually abuse children while he watched through a web cam. Webb had 75 webcam videos depicting the live sexual abuse of children when he was arrested.

His case led to the arrest of six people, including Martin, in Washington, Kansas, Ohio, Louisiana and Texas, as well as the rescue of eight children from abuse, according to the Minot Daily News.

Martin's lawyer described him as a man with cerebral palsy who is easily influenced by others. He met his wife through a 1-900 number.

“His repeated contact with her through that phone number ultimately led to the development of their relationship and their marriage. Discovery indicates that the computer and the internet were significant parts of both of their lives,” Martin's lawyer wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “Based on his deference to others, and the prevalence of the computer and use thereof in the home, Mr. Martin more easily succumbed to Mr. Webb’s requests than might otherwise have been the case.”

Martin was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court last week after pleading guilty to production of child pornography/use of a child to transmit live images of abuse. He'll be on probation for 15 years after his release.

Sex offender gets 8 years for child porn

A registered sex offender was sentenced to eight years in prison today for distributing child pornography.

John Patrick McClaren, 46, of Hayden Lake, is to be on probation for 15 years after his release.

The Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force began investigating McClaren in December 2009 after a Shoshone County sheriff's deputy learned his Internet Protocol address was involved in the distribution of child pornography online.

Investigators seized a laptop computer and two hard drives from his home in the 3100 block of East Cambridge Drive on Jan. 27, 2010, that contained at least 160 sexually explicit images of minors. One child was identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as being a sex abuse victim from New Hampshire, officials said.

McClaren was convicted of possessing child pornography in Kootenai County in 2001, according to the Idaho Sex Offender Registry.

He pleaded guilty in February to distributing child pornography that is an adapted or modified depiction of an identifiable minor and was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge in Coeur d'Alene.
McClaren forfeited the computer and hard drives used in the crime.

“It is a priority of this office, and our law enforcement partners to target and prosecute anyone who collects or distributes child pornography,” Wendy Olson, U.S. attorney for Idaho, said in a prepared statement.  “We are firmly committed to protecting children.  This commitment includes advocating for lengthy prison sentences that reflect these horrendous criminal acts.” 

Troopers in Chism case not punished

The two Washington State Patrol troopers whose botched child pornography investigation cost taxpayers $2.4 million have been transferred off a sex crimes unit but have not faced any discipline for providing false information to a judge.

WSP Sgt. John Sager and Trooper Rachel Gardner are back on patrol and will not be placed on what’s known as a “Brady” list for officers known to have lied on the job, WSP spokesman Bob Calkins said.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

WSP settles Chism lawsuit for $2.4mil

A botched search for child pornography at the home of a Spokane firefighter will cost Washington taxpayers $2.4 million.

 The Washington State Patrol and the attorney for Spokane Fire Department Lt. Todd Chism have settled a lawsuit stemming from the January 2008 search of Chism’s home that found nothing.

Chism and his attorney, Bob Dunn, had filed a $10 million suit against the WSP, which arrested Chism on the charge of child pornography possession. However, the investigation soon revealed that purchase was traced to Chism’s wife’s stolen bank card and the Chisms had done nothing wrong.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 18: Jury clears Chism of all charges

April 23, 2010: Chism threatened to kill troopers, WSP said

Crash kills man before porn sentencing

A man scheduled to be sentenced to federal prison today for child pornography died in a one-car crash in Pend Oreille County this morning.

Bruce R. Thompson was killed when his 2003 GMC pickup went off state Route 211 about 10 miles west of Newport and struck a boulder, according to Washington State Patrol.

Thompson, 61, was pronounced dead at the scene. Drugs and alcohol are not believed to be a factor.

The crash was reported about 8:30 a.m. Thompson was due in U.S. District Court in Spokane at 9 a.m. to be sentenced for receipt of child pornography. He'd been out of jail awaiting sentencing since a grand jury indicted him in April 2011. Federal agents searched his apartment in the 500 block of West 7th Avenue in April 2010.

Thompson pleaded guilty in February to downloading child pornography on the Internet from February 2006 to December 2009.

A plea agreement called for him to serve five years in federal prison.

Jury indicts DSHS worker for child porn

A state social services employee arrested on child pornography charges April 17 has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Darrell J. Rogers, 51, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to two counts of distribution of child pornography. The charges carry five years to 20 years in prison and registration as a sex offender if convicted. 

Rogers, a married father with no criminal history, was allowed to leave jail a few days after his arrest after undergoing a mental health assessment.

A prosecutor said the material federal agents downloaded from Rogers, who licenses foster homes for children, is some of the worst he's encountered in his 36 years of practicing law.

DSHS worker had ‘disturbing’ child porn

A state social services employee accused of distributing child pornography must undergo a mental health evaluation before he can leave jail, a judge ruled today.

A federal prosecutor said the material distributed by Darrell J. Rogers, who licenses foster homes for children, is some of the worst he's encountered in his 36 years of practicing law.

“This is not normal child pornography,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks said at Rogers' bail hearing in U.S. District Court. “This is child pornography that is very disturbing.”

The material includes a video of a 3-month-old girl being raped by an adult male, Hicks said.

“This is not like trading baseball cards,” Hicks said. “What kind of person would have an interest in this?…Most people are disgusted by it, and most people would ask 'what's wrong with this person?'”

Rogers, 51, is a married father of two with no criminal history. He's lived in Spokane his entire life and has worked for the state Department of Health and Human Services since 1995. Family, friends and coworkers attended his hearing; some left afterward in tears.

Distributing child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for each image.

U.S Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno will review Rogers' mental health evaluation. Rogers and his wife must pay $25,000 bond to secure his release from jail. If he is released, Rogers will be confined to his home and must wear an electric monitor. Firearms that FBI agents found in his home during a search on Tuesday must be removed.

Imbrogno called the conditions “perhaps about as stringent as they get for this type of charge,” she said.

Hicks cited Rogers’ employment as a person in a position of trust with children as further reason for a mental health evaluation.

“He's leading a double life, in effect,” Hicks said.

A DSHS spokesman said Rogers will be reassigned to a position in which he does not have contact with children if he's released from jail pending the resolution of his case. Imbrogno said she'll decide if Rogers can be employed after reading his evaluation.

Rogers has been in the Spokane County Jail since Tuesday, when FBI agents arrested him at his home in the 7100 block of North Westgate Place in the Indian Trail area in north Spokane and seized a computer containing sexually explicit images of children.

The FBI began investigating him in February after an agent in Maryland downloaded child pornography from an Internet Protocol address linked to Rogers' home.

The material features the infant and children up to six years old, Hicks said.

Rogers told the FBI the material was on a computer in the guest bedroom when questioned, Hicks said.

Rogers also told investigators he'd never hurt a child and would contact authorities if he knew of someone who was. He said he wasn't sexually attracted to children but was “trying to figure out” child pornography.

Hicks said Rogers' response was typical “even from people who have been diagnosed as pedophiles.”

“I'm not saying Rogers is; I'm saying that's a typical response,” Hicks said.

He called the assertion that viewing and distributing child pornography doesn't harm children “bunk.”

“Fifty-one-year-olds creating generations of pedophiles. If we look at the facts, that’s what happens in a lot of circumstances,” Hicks said.

Public defender Matthew Campbell said a mental health evaluation isn't necessary and said Rogers is not a danger to the community. “He has no criminal history,” Campbell said.

Campbell said prosecutors have not opposed pre-trial release in other child pornography cases, but Hicks said the cases didn't involve three month olds being raped by adult males.

FBI arrests social worker for child porn

A state social services employee who licenses foster care homes was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of child pornography possession.

Darrell J. Rogers, 51, is in the Spokane County Jail without bail after appearing in U.S. District Court Tuesday afternoon. FBI agents arrested him at his home in the 7100 block of North Westgate Place in the Indian Trail area in north Spokane, where he lives with his wife, Kim Rogers, 49.

Kim Rogers also is a social worker with the state Department of Social and Health Services who specializes in finding homes for children who are wards of the state. Her husband licenses those homes, a neighbor said.

Darrell Rogers told FBI agents his wife had nothing to do with the child pornography they were investigating, according to court documents. The FBI began investigating Rogers in February after an agent in Maryland downloaded child pornography from an Internet user in Spokane.

The material includes children as young as approximately three months old being sexually assaulted by men and women.

Darrell Rogers was a social worker for 10 years beginning in 1995, said Thomas Shapley, DSHS spokesman. He began licensing foster homes in 2005, Shapley said.

Rogers is barred from entering his workplace, and his computer access has been locked. Should he be released from jail pending the resolution of the case, “we've already prepared an alternative work assignment for him where he would not have any contact with children,” Shapley said.

FBI agents say Rogers admitted Tuesday to using Internet file sharing programs and said no one else in the home, including his wife and two sons, would have used the screen names associated with the explicit material.

“Agents asked if he knew of any really bad people who he traded with that specifically harmed children,” according to court documents. “Rogers responded that he did not know of anyone who was abusing children, and had he known he would have reported it.”

Rogers told federal agents he had had no sexual interest in the material but was “trying to figure it out,” documents say.

“When asked about how long he had an interest in child pornography, Rogers stated that he did not know, and that he would never touch a child, and would never molest children,” agents wrote.

Rogers is due back in court Friday for a hearing to determine if he can be allowed out of jail on bail pending trial.

Valley man gets 4 years for child porn

A Spokane Valley man was sentenced Monday to four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography.

Jonathan Stocker, 30, was indicted September after a May 31 federal search of his home found 24 videos and images of children engaged in sex acts, according to court records.

Stocker is not in jail and is being allowed to self report to federal prison. A sentencing memorandum described him as a man who “pays his taxes and his bills and lives modestly.”

“He has no history of abuse of children and in fact, his friends and family who have children, report that he acts appropriately,” according to the memo prepared by his public defender. “There is no indication that Mr. Stocker presents a danger to anyone.”

Stocker was prosecuted under the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Harrington said in a news release.

  

Sex offender admits child porn charge

A registered sex offender admitted today to possessing child pornography at his home in Hayden Lake, Idaho.

John Patrick McClaren, 46, faces up to 15 years in prison when he's sentenced June 19 in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force began investigating McClaren in December 2009 after learning his Internet Protocol address was involved in the distribution of child pornography online.

Investigators seized a laptop computer and two hard drives from his home in the 3100 block of East Cambridge Drive on Jan. 27, 2010, that contained at least 160 sexually explicit images of minors. One child was identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as being a sex abuse victim from New Hampshire, officials said.

McClaren was convicted of possessing child pornography in Kootenai County in 2001, according to the Idaho Sex Offender Registry.

N. Idaho man sentenced for child porn

A Hayden Lake man is to spend more than six years in federal prison for possessing child pornography.

Charley Brigham Leighton II, 41, also is to be on probation for 15 years, forfeit the computer and media used in the crime and register as a sex offender under a sentence imposed today in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene.

Investigators seized computers from Leighton's home in August 2010 that contained pornography images of children. Leighton told investigators he'd downloaded more than 1,000 images in about a year, according to court documents. He pleaded guilty in October.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said the images depicted children from Missouri, Georgia, Connecticut, Michigan, Florida, Washington, France, Germany, Brazil, Belgium, England and the Netherlands, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

“Obtaining and possessing child pornography sexually exploits the children who appear in these heinous images again and again and again,” U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said in a prepared statement.  “Mr. Leighton’s lengthy prison sentence sends a strong message that Idaho law enforcement, prosecutors and courts well understand that protecting our children against those who would exploit them is a critical criminal justice mission.”

Sex offender arrested for child porn

Spokane police Officer Tyler Cordis escorts sex offender Christopher Ebner to a patrol car after his arrest on child pornography charges today. (SPDphoto)

A sex offender was arrested today for allegedly possessing child pornography. 

Christopher Michael Ebner, 37, lives in the 1400 block of North Hodges Road in Spokane Valley, which is near the Central Valley Kindergarten Center and the Central Valley bus garage.

Detectives discovered Ebner had a large amount of child pornography on his computer and that he was sharing the material online.

The videos depicted children who appeared to be as young as 8 years old, police said. Ebner was booked into jail about 9:15 a.m.

Ebner is a level 2 sex offender with convictions in 2005 for third-degree rape of a child and possession of child pornography.

He was arrested in 2004 for having sex with a 14-year-old girl he met through an Internet chat room. Police found child pornography on his computer then, according to a previous report.

He was sentenced to 26 months in prison and four years probation, according to court records.

Today's search warrant was one of four related to child pornography in recent weeks, police said.

Porn suspect wanted after skipping court

A 23-year-old man scheduled for trial this month on child pornography charges is wanted by Crime stoppers after skipping a court hearing.

Richard B. Griffith is charged with possessing and distributing the illicit material via the Internet.

Spokane police searched his apartment in the 5200 block of South Ferrall Court on May 18 after tracking child pornography that had been posted on a file-sharing website.

The website's administrator alerted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of a photo uploaded by Griffith, according to court documents, and the center notified Spokane police.

Griffith told police he posted pictures on he website and “may have had some cloudy judgement,” according to court documents. He said he was “probably high at the time,” police said.

A no-bail warrant was issued for Griffith's arrest Jan. 20 after he missed a pre-trial conference on Jan. 13.

Griffith, 5-foot-7 and 190 pounds , last gave a home address in the 1000 block of Slide Creek Road in Colville, according to Crime Stoppers.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to cal at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.

Spokane man gets 13 years for child porn

A sex offender assaulted in his cell by a self-proclaimed skinhead will spend nearly 15 years in prison for child pornography charges.

Darrel W. Monzingo, 45, was sentenced today to 161 months after he pleaded guilty this summer to possessing and distributing child pornography. The case began when a Colorado Internet Crimes Against Child Task Force discovered him sharing the material over the Internet.

The investigation led to Spokane,  where the Spokane Police Department executed a search warrant on Dec. 16, 2010.

Officers seized about three dozen items of digital equipment containing thousands of images of child pornography – including some images Monzingo took himself, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Rice said.

Monzingo has been in federal custody since Jan. 20. He was originally charged with producing child pornography. In March, he was assaulted by a self-proclaimed skinhead who was later convicted after a bench trial.
  

Athol man admits child porn charge

An Athol, Idaho, man pleaded guilty Tuesday to a child pornography charge related to illicit material found during a search of his home in September 2010.

Samuel Ted Ussery, 50, faces up to five years in prison and three years of probation after pleading guilty to transportation of an obscene matter. He's scheduled to be sentenced March 26 by Judge Edward Lodge in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene.

An investigator with the Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force began investigating Ussery in July 2010 after discovering that a computer with an IP address belonging to him used file sharing software to access child pornography.

A federal search warrant executed at Ussery's home at 6203 E. Highway 54 revealed computer equipment with images of child pornography that had been deleted but were able to be recovered, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Sex offender gets 10 years for child porn

A Cheney man who already went to federal prison for distributing child pornography using his former co-worker's stolen identity is to return for a 10-year sentence for another child porn charge.

John Alan Harmon, 58, is to serve 120 months in federal prison and will be on probation for the rest of his life under a sentence imposed this morning in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

He's to forfeit $120,000 in lieu of the forfeiture of his home in Cheney. Investigators found electronic equipment with about 36,000 images of child pornography in Harmon's home during a search in January 2010. Harmon was already a registered sex offender after leaving prison in 2005 after serving three years for distributing child pornography.

Harmon has been in jail since his arrest on Jan. 10. A plea deal dismissed a sentencing enhancement that mandated a 15-year sentence because of Harmon’s prior conviction.

“The network of dedicated law enforcement officers across the country that search for and identify child pornographers (is) invaluable to making our communities safer,” Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said in a prepared statement.

A sentencing memorandum prepared by his attorney, Bevan Maxey, said Harmon has a sexual disorder but is otherwise a studious individual.

“Although Mr. Harmon recognizes that his disorder makes him attracted to minors, he has consistently denied ever having any sexual contact with a real child,” according to the memo. “These assertions have repeatedly been confirmed by polygraph tests.”

Still, “Mr. Harmon recognizes, admits to, and regrets the extremely hurtful and damaging nature of the illegal images he possessed,” his lawyer wrote.

Charge: Soldier took child porn to Kuwait

A soldier is accused of transporting child pornography from Spokane to Kuwait while on duty with the military.

Jason D. Talbott, 33, pleaded not guilty today to four child pornography charges in U.S. District Court in Spokane. He was allowed to stay out of jail awaiting trial and will reside in Denver, Colo., where he is stationed with the military, according to court documents.

A federal grand jury indicted Talbott Nov. 16 on charges of receipt, possession, distribution and transportation of child pornography, as well as a forfeiture charge that calls for him to relinquish a computer, an external hard drive and a digital book reader.

The charges allege Talbott receiving child pornography in Spokane Valley between June 21, 2005, and April 21, 2009, and possessing the material until March 16. He's accused of distributing the pornography between August 2010 and November 2010, and of transporting a computer with explicit images on it to Kuwait in December 2010.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Talbott's release conditions require him to stay away from minors unless another adult is present. He's prohibited from accessing the Internet unless he's required to do so by the military.

According to the Daily Mail, Talbott was identified by federal authorities after he contacted a fake website that advertised children for sex. The website was an undercover Internet sting operation designed by the Department of Homeland Security but has since been shutdown, the newspaper reports.

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