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Child Exploitation
03/04/2014

Child sex offender pleads guilty to production, distribution of child pornography

WILMINGTON, Del. — A Millsboro man pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware to production and transportation of child pornography following an investigation by the Delaware Child Predator Task Force and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Harry K. Roche, 43, was convicted in 2003 in Delaware of using a computer to depict a child engaging in a prohibited sexual act and possession of child pornography, which involved Roche producing sexually explicit images of children in his Magnolia apartment. In 1994, Roche had been convicted of sexual harassment of a minor boy. At the time of the offense, Roche was registered as a sex offender as required by Delaware and federal law.

As a result of his prior convictions, Roche faces enhanced sentencing penalties under federal law, including a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years, and a maximum sentence of 50 years, in prison. Roche also faces a term of supervised release of five years to life following his prison sentence, and he will be required to continue to register as a sex offender in any U.S. jurisdiction in which he lives, works or attends school. Roche will be sentenced on a date to be determined by U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson.

According to statements made and documents filed in court, Roche came to the attention of the Delaware Child Predator Task Force after it received a cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The cybertip reported that an AOL user, subsequently identified as Roche, a registered child sex offender from Millsboro, had distributed files containing child pornography through an AOL server.

On Jan. 31, 2013, Delaware Child Predator Task Force officers executed a state search warrant at Roche's Millsboro apartment. Roche and a roommate were present for the search, during which officers seized numerous computers, cellular phones and external digital storage devices. A subsequent forensic examination of that computer equipment revealed that Roche had collected and distributed hundreds of pictures and movies of child pornography, virtually all of which featured prepubescent boys engaged in sexual acts.

Also during the forensic examination of Roche's iPhone, a forensic examiner discovered a series of photographs of Roche in the bedroom of his residence engaged in a sexual act with a young boy. Metadata associated with the digital files indicated that the images were saved to the iPhone Jan. 30, 2013, the day before the residential search occurred. The Delaware Child Predator Task Force and HSI special agents worked together to identify the child victim, who resides in Delaware. The investigation further revealed that Roche met the child victim near the apartment and subsequently lured the child into his apartment. Roche subsequently distributed the images that he had produced, along with other images of child pornography, to other child sex offenders.

Following the plea hearing, U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly, III stated: "By today's plea, this twice-convicted sexual predator will be removed from society for likely the remainder of his life. Upon his sentencing later this year, the deserved severe sentence, a minimum mandatory of 25 years, should serve as a deterrent to others that a long prison sentence is the price to pay for engaging in such activity."

"There is a clear and deeply disturbing link between those who possess child pornography and those who commit physical offenses against children," Attorney General Beau Biden said. "That's why the work of the Delaware Child Predator Task Force, along with our close cooperation with federal law enforcement partners, is so critical to finding these dangerous predators and taking them off the streets."

The investigation is part of 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.

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.

This case was brought as part of the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Project Safe Childhood Program, which was launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of online child sexual exploitation and abuse. Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue child victims. As intended by DOJ's Project Safe Childhood Program, federal and state child exploitation prosecutors and investigators have worked together to investigate and prosecute Roche.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S Attorney Edward J. McAndrew.