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Child Exploitation
05/20/2014

Bay Area sex offender sentenced to more than 17 years for distributing child pornography

OAKLAND, Calif. — A Bay Area man was sentenced Monday to 210 months in prison for distribution of child pornography, following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Terry Howell, 57, most recently of Baypoint, Calif., pleaded guilty Feb. 10, to distributing child pornography to a person in another state using his email account. According to the plea agreement, Howell also admitted he received child pornography images and videos through his email account on five occasions. Howell acknowledged that, at the time of his arrest, his cellular telephone contained more than 80 videos and more than 550 images of minors engaged in sexually explicit activities, including scenes involving sadistic conduct.

Court documents indicate Howell was trading child pornography materials with another man who had two prior convictions for child pornography offenses, and Howell's email messages contained graphic descriptions of his desire to commit extreme violence against a child. At the time Howell committed the child pornography offenses charged in this case, he had prior convictions for child sex offenses.

"This case should serve as a stern warning to those who mistakenly believe cyberspace affords them anonymity and they can use the Internet to sexually exploit children with impunity," said Tatum King, acting special agent in charge for HSI San Francisco. "Online predators should be on notice that HSI will do everything in its power and use every tool at its disposal to track them down and ensure that they are brought to justice."

The sentence was handed down by Chief U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken following a guilty plea to a violation of distribution of child pornography. Judge Wilken also sentenced Howell to a 10-year period of supervised release. Special conditions of Howell's supervised release include: sex offender-specific treatment; registration with the state sex offender registration agency; suspicionless search of his residence and property; and no contact with any child under the age of 18. The defendant has been in custody since his arrest on Sept. 13, 2013, and will begin serving the sentence immediately.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina McCall, aided by Vanessa Quant and Noble Hughes.

This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.