Carter M. Stewart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Michigan and Ohio, and Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott, on behalf of the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, announced the Oct. 10 sentencing before U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson.
According to court documents, in February, Patrick Mahoney, 35, of Columbus, Ohio, arranged an online sexual encounter with an undercover officer whom he thought was a 15-year-old girl. The investigation revealed he intended to photograph the encounter with his cell phone. He also sent 45 images and nine videos depicting prepubescent males and females engaged in sexual activity with adult males and other children.
"Children who are sexually exploited either physically or through the dissemination of child pornography suffer immeasurable harm," said Moskowitz. "And while this significant sentence cannot repair the damage done, it should serve as a stark reminder that we are watching and the aggressive investigation and prosecution of predators remains a high priority for HSI."
In interviews with HSI special agents, Mahoney admitted his intentions to take photographs of his sexual activity with the fictitious 15-year-old female, that he had also engaged in an online conversation with an undercover officer about engaging in sex acts with the undercover officer's fictitious 4, 8 and 11-year-old children, that he had used a file-sharing program to download more than 100 files containing child pornography, and that he had previously engaged in sexual activity with his minor step-daughter for approximately four years, beginning when she was 6 or 7 years old.
"The nature and circumstances of the offenses in this case undoubtedly fall toward the gravest and most horrifying end of the spectrum of child exploitation offenses," Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Hill wrote in a memorandum filed with the court prior to sentencing. "He sexually abused and assaulted a young child from the time she was 6 or 7 until she was approximately 10 or 11, attempted to abuse four additional minor children, distributed at least 66 images and videos of child pornography, and furthered the victimization of countless children by downloading, viewing and sharing depictions of the horrific sexual abuse of minors."
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, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).