FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — An Arkansas man was sentenced to 55 years in federal prison Thursday, without the possibility of parole, for producing child pornography of an 8-year-old boy. The sentencing follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Arkansas Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC).
Jesse Oziah, 19, previously pleaded guilty in February to two counts of production of child pornography. In his plea agreement, Oziah admitted he coerced the child to engage in sexually explicit conduct that he photographed.
"Individuals who produce child pornography steal the innocence of children and potentially destroy lives," said HSI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr. "This case shows HSI investigators are actively working to identity and disrupt the trade of these illegal images, and also to identify and seek prosecution of the criminals who produce and possess them."
Parmer oversees a five-state region including Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
The office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas prosecuted the case.
"Cases in which children are sexually abused are horrifying and astounding. In this case, the defendant assaulted an 8-year-old little boy. This is reprehensible and the defendant has now been brought to justice. We will continue to aggressively prosecute cases involving the abuse of children and the production of child pornography to the fullest extent of the law. We will continue to stand up for children throughout Arkansas," said U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge.
According to court documents, in November 2013, agents with HSI and the state ICAC received information that an individual living in Northwest Arkansas posted an image of child pornography on Facebook. Investigators subsequently executed a federal search warrant at Oziah's residence where investigators located numerous digital storage devices, including an IPod Touch belonging to Oziah. An on-scene forensic examination of the IPod revealed multiple images of Oziah sexually assaulting the 8-year-old victim.
Oziah subsequently admitted to taking pictures and videos of himself engaging in sexually explicit activity with the minor. At his sentencing Thursday, the government presented the court with evidence that Oziah not only sexually assaulted the 8-year-old male, but was also actively involved in distributing other images of child pornography over the Internet.
In addition to the 55-year federal prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks ordered Oziah to serve 25 years supervised release following the completion of his sentence. Oziah is also required to register as a sex offender.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.