BOISE, Idaho — A Payette man who received child pornography from a man in Canada pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to possessing sexually explicit images of minors, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Steven Ray Hemenway, 47, admitted to possessing child pornography when investigators searched his home in February. HSI special agents began their probe after Canadian officials busted a Toronto man for distributing child pornography by email. Hemenway was among those the Canadian man had sent illicit images. Court records say the Canadian man told investigators he had been downloading child pornography for several years; and had emailed between 100 and 500 images of child pornography to approximately 10 other email accounts during the previous year.
Investigators seized Hemenway's computer and recovered images and videos, including sexually explicit material depicting prepubescent minors. The material was sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) for comparison with previously identified victims of abuse. According to NCMEC, among the images found on Hemenway's computer were previously known victims from North Carolina, Georgia, Washington, Missouri, Connecticut, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Canada, United Kingdom, Ukraine, France and Belgium.
The charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and five years to lifetime supervised release. Hemenway's sentencing is set for Feb. 25, 2014.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Idaho is prosecuting the case. The Payette Police Department assisted in the investigation.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.