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Child Exploitation
03/08/2012

Illinois man indicted for sexually exploiting a minor, possessing child pornography

URBANA, Ill. — A local man was indicted Wednesday for sexually exploiting a minor and possessing child pornography, following an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Champaign, Ill., police department.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment March 7 charging Michael L. Denight, 57, of Mahomet, Ill., with six counts of sexually exploiting a minor and one count of possessing child pornography. The indictment also seeks criminal forfeiture of Denight's extensive inventory of computer, camera and related equipment.

The indictment alleges that for each of the six counts of sexually exploiting a minor, Denight produced images of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The indictment alleges that Denight committed the offenses in Mahomet during various time periods between 2000 and 2005. The indictment further alleges that Denight possessed child pornography on or about Feb. 16, 2012.

If convicted, the statutory penalty for each count of sexually exploiting a minor is a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and up to 30 years in prison. For possessing child pornography, the penalty is a maximum of 10 years in prison. The defendant may also be ordered to remain under supervised release for life following any term of imprisonment.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly Peirson, Central District of Illinois, is prosecuting the case, with the cooperation of Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz.

Denight was previously charged in a federal criminal complaint filed on Feb. 17. On Feb. 24, U.S. Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal ordered Denight to remain detained in U.S. Marshals Service custody.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

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-DHS-2ICE or its online tip form. 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.