COLUMBUS, Ohio - Christopher Gould, 51, of Westerville, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court here today to one count of sexual exploitation of children by producing child pornography. His son, Adam Gould, 25, pleaded guilty on April 16, 2009, to one count of distribution of child pornography.
"All children have an absolute right to grow up free from the fear of sexual exploitation," said Brian Moskowitz, special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Investigations in Detroit. "ICE relentlessly pursues predators who sexually abuse children, whether that abuse is physical in nature or if it's accomplished by exploiting their images. Our agents will continue to police cyber space to investigate and bring to justice those individuals who exploit the most vulnerable in our society, our children."
Gregory G. Lockhart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Brian Moskowitz, ICE special agent in charge, and Westerville Police Chief Joseph Morbitzer announced the pleas entered before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr.
According the investigation, ICE agents and Westerville police officers executed a federal search warrant at Gould's home on Oct. 29, 2008. While there, agents seized two laptop computers belonging to Adam Gould. Forensic examiners found more than 2,500 pictures and 78 movies of child pornography on the two computers.
Agents also seized a briefcase containing photographs Christopher Gould admitted taking of a 12-year-old girl in sexually explicit poses, and a computer belonging to Christopher Gould. Forensic analysis of this computer uncovered more than 30 sexually explicit images of the same juvenile and evidence that there had been other photos that Christopher Gould had deleted.
"Under the terms of the plea agreement, Christopher Gould will be sentenced to 180 months imprisonment and Adam Gould agreed to a sentence of 80 months imprisonment," Lockhart said, noting that the plea agreements also call for them to forfeit all the computer equipment they own. "Law enforcement officers patrolling the Internet are as crucial to our public safety as having officers patrolling our streets."
This case was investigated under Operation Predator, which is a nationwide ICE 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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,600 individuals.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.