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Child Exploitation
06/13/2012

Convicted child sex offender pleads guilty to distributing child pornography

Defendant had already served 12 years in prison time for assaulting a child

SAN ANTONIO – A convicted child sex offender from New Braunfels, Texas, pleaded guilty Tuesday to distributing child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Charles Leroy Earl, 65, pleaded guilty to one count of distributing child pornography before U.S. District Judge John Primomo. Through the course of the investigation, special agents learned that Earl had served more than 12 years in a Nevada prison for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old.

According to court documents, HSI executed a federal search warrant at Earl's New Braunfels residence Oct. 4, 2011. The following items were seized during the search: 10 computers, eight power books, 61 hard disk drives, two digital cameras, and numerous compact disks and DVDs. Forensic analysis of the digital media seized from Earl revealed that he possessed 63,152 images and 11,755 videos of child pornography.

"With every downloaded file and every viewing of an illicit photograph, consumers of child pornography further victimize these children," said Jerry Robinette, special agent in charge of HSI San Antonio. "Anyone who views or possesses child pornography is just as complicit in furthering the child pornography trade as those who produce it. We will continue to pursue these predators and bring them to justice."

Earl's sentencing is set for Sept. 20 before Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas is handling the prosecution.

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-DHS-2ICE 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, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.