CHICAGO - A former competitive ice skating coach was taken into federal custody Monday to begin serving a 14-year prison sentence for possessing child pornography. This sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Edward Bernas, 63, of Mundelein, Ill., pleaded guilty in October to using his personal computer in 2007 and 2008 to store child pornography. In February 2008, Bernas possessed at least 500 still images and 15 videos of child pornography on his computer, including images of children engaged in explicit sexual conduct. The children depicted in these images and videos were actual children who were had been exploited and/or molested.
Bernas, formerly of Naperville, Ill., coached children in competitive ice skating in Downers Grove in the 1980s. He was convicted in DuPage County Circuit Court in 1985 of criminal sexual abuse and indecent liberties with a child, and was sentenced to two years' probation. A victim in that case testified at his federal sentencing that Bernas earned her trust, lured her into his home and molested her.
While imposing the 168-months federal prison sentence on April 19, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer told Bernas that sexual interest in "young girls has been part of your life for decades." Bernas was also sentenced to serve five years of supervised release following his prison sentence. Judge Pallmeyer ordered Bernas to return to court April 25, where she ordered restitution paid to an identified victim whose images were stored on his computer.
Bernas faced a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 20 years in prison. He must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for release. There is no parole in the federal prison system.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marny M. Zimmer, Northern District of Illinois, prosecuted this case.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, 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.
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.