Charles LeRoy Earl, 65, of New Braunfels, Texas, appeared before U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia Sept. 20. Judge Garcia sentenced Earl to 360 months in prison and ordered him to serve a life-term of supervised release and to register as a sex offender.
According to court documents, the Beaumont, Texas, Police Department was conducting undercover online sessions when they happened upon Earl's IP address. Beaumont PD then passed this information to HSI. On Oct. 4, 2011, HSI executed a search warrant at Earl's residence and seized about two dozen computers and related media. An HSI forensics examination of the seized items revealed more than 10,000 videos and 62,000 images of child pornography. The local HSI agents identified this seizure as the largest cache of child pornography they'd encountered.
HSI arrested Earl Oct. 6, 2011; he pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography June 12.
"This prosecution involved not only a vast amount of child pornography, but an offender who had demonstrated a proclivity for actually abusing children himself. He will, in all likelihood, spend the rest of his life in prison, which is apparently the only place where offenders like him can be prevented from preying upon vulnerable children," stated U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman.
"Child exploitation is one of the most heinous crimes we investigate" said Vincent Iglio, deputy special agent in charge of HSI San Antonio. "HSI and our law enforcement partners quickly responded to this situation to end Charles Earl's ability to trade or distribute child pornography ever again."
Earl is a former Reno, Nev., police officer who had also been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for sexually assaulting a child in 1985.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Thompson, Western District of Texas, prosecuted this case.
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.