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Child Exploitation
01/17/2014

Convicted child sex offender pleads guilty to receiving child pornography

WILMINGTON, Del. – A Georgetown man pleaded guilty Thursday to receipt of child pornography following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

William Zimmerman, 64, was previously convicted of unlawful sexual contact in 1988 and possession of child pornography in 1993. As a result of his prior convictions, Zimmerman faces enhanced sentencing penalties to include a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison followed by supervised release for five years to life. He will be required to continue to register as a sex offender in any jurisdiction in which he lives, works or attends school.

According to case records, HSI special agents assigned to the Delaware Child Predator Task Force became aware of Zimmerman during an investigation into another registered child sex offender.

Evidence showed Zimmerman and David Pennington shared images of child pornography by mailing digital photographs saved to thumb drives. The pair met while they were incarcerated. Subsequently, task force officers executed a state search warrant at Pennington’s Georgetown residence Dec. 20, 2012, and recovered evidence detailing child sexual abuse and mail containing child pornography. Task force officers seized Pennington’s cell phone, and upon forensic examination, found two images of a prepubescent boy engaged in a sex act with an adult male.

During a January 2013 interview with law enforcement, Pennington told investigators he received the two images of child pornography from Zimmerman. He also indicated he would go to Zimmerman’s home, where they both used a computer to access child pornography.

Task force officers executed a state search warrant at Zimmerman’s Georgetown residence Jan. 8, 2013. They recovered several pieces of computer equipment containing hundreds of images of child pornography. The images featured children ranging from infancy to their mid-teens posing or engaging in sexual acts with adult males.

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 producing and distributing online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking 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.