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Child Exploitation

Bakersfield-area sex offender receives 15-year prison term following second conviction on child pornography charges

FRESNO, Calif. – A Bakersfield-area sex offender was sentenced Monday to 15 years in prison following his second conviction on federal child pornography charges, which stemmed from a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Cass Eugene Mitchell, 30, of McFarland, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii for receiving images of child pornography. Upon completion of his prison term, Mitchell will be subject to 25 years of supervised release.

"As this sentencing makes unmistakably clear, child sex predators will receive the justice they are due for their despicable actions," said Michael Toms, resident agent in charge of HSI Bakersfield. "We will continue to aggressively target those who prey upon and sexually exploit our children. We owe it to the young victims in these cases, who will carry the emotional and physical scars of these crimes for the rest of their lives."

According to court documents, when Mitchell most recently downloaded images of child pornography, he was serving a term of supervised release stemming from a previous conviction on similar charges. In 2006, Mitchell was sentenced to more than four years in prison and 15 years of supervised release. Last year, he violated the conditions of his supervised release by unlawfully using a controlled substance and was sentenced to six months in prison.

According to court documents, Mitchell violated the terms of his latest supervised release by unlawfully using a controlled substance, accessing the Internet without authorization, and between January 2011 and January 21 of this year downloading images of child pornography. Many of the images depicted prepubescent minors, and several depicted violence or sadistic or masochistic conduct. After his 15-year-prison term, Mitchell will be required to register as a sex offender, and his access to computers, minors, and the Internet will be restricted. Mitchell has been detained as a flight risk and danger to the community since March 11.

In addition to Bakersfield HSI, the U.S. Probation Office also participated in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gappa prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, and Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

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.

Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. Click on the "resources" tab for information about Internet safety education.