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Child Exploitation
04/09/2012

Former youth pastor sentenced to 25 years for producing child pornography

TACOMA, Wash. — A former Oregon youth pastor was sentenced Friday to 25 years in prison and lifetime supervised release for production of child pornography following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Michael Scott Norris, 45, of Vancouver, Wash., was arrested in 2006 for participating in child pornography distribution websites. HSI special agents searched Norris' residence and discovered movies and images of young children engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Investigators found that Norris used his position as a youth pastor for a Portland, Ore., church to befriend the parents of two of his victims. The children were also molested and sexually abused by Norris.

"Child predators are con men who maneuver themselves into positions of trust to perpetrate their heinous crimes," said Brad Bench, acting special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. "In their wake they leave broken victims and damaged communities. HSI is committed to using every tool at its disposal to seek out and bring these criminals to justice."

In asking for a 35-year sentence, federal prosecutors wrote to the court, "Michael Scott Norris committed unimaginable crimes. Norris was trying to inflict the maximum amount of psychological pain and damage on his helpless victims. His actions were calculated to destroy these children, to shatter them beyond repair."

Norris has been in custody since his arrest in August 2006. He was federally indicted in January 2011. Norris pleaded guilty in August 2011. He currently faces additional local child abuse charges in Clark County, Wash.

The case is part of HSI's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a Department of Justice effort launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

As part of Operation Predator, HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

Led by U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section in the Justice Department's Criminal Division, PSC marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about PCS, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov or call the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington and ask to speak with the PSC coordinator.