SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The U.S. Attorney's Office announced that a Grand Jury sitting in South Bend, Ind., returned the following Indictment on May 15, 2008:
James Allen Hatch, 45, from Michigan City, Ind., was charged with seven counts relating to child exploitation and child pornography. Counts One and Seven allege that Hatch transported child pornography in interstate commerce; Counts Two and Three allege that Hatch transported one or more minors across a state line to engage in sex; Counts Four and Five allege that Hatch enticed one or more minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing video tapes of the conduct; and Count Six alleges that Hatch possessed child pornography on his computer. The lead investigative agency is the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The investigation began when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received two tips leading to Hatch. One tip led ICE agents to determine that Hatch's Internet email account had been used to send suspected child pornography across interstate lines in September 2007. The other tip to NCMEC led authorities to suspect that Hatch was traveling to Wisconsin on April 2 with young boys for the purpose of having sex with them. Agents with the Wisconsin Department of Justice learned of the tips and immediately located the motel room in which Hatch was staying and began surveillance. Wisconsin authorities obtained a search warrant for the motel room and found Hatch and three young boys as well as a small quantity of marijuana. The three minor boys were taken into protective custody and returned to their parents. Hatch was arrested by Wisconsin law enforcement for Child Enticement-Sexual Contact, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Contributing to Delinquency of a Child.
On April 4, 2008, ICE agents executed a search warrant at Hatch's home near Michigan City, Ind. Agents seized a computer, handcuffs, several videotapes, computer peripherals, and a small quantity of marijuana. Subsequent computer forensic analysis by ICE agents uncovered hundreds of images of child pornography on the computer. Examination of two videotapes revealed that they depict children engaging in sexual conduct, including one of the boys who was with Hatch in Wisconsin.
ICE agents in Indiana obtained an arrest warrant for Hatch on April 10. After Hatch posted bond in Wisconsin and was released, Hatch returned to Indiana, where he was arrested by ICE agents on the federal warrant. Hatch was taken to a federal magistrate judge for an initial hearing in South Bend on April 11 and subsequently ordered detained on April 24, 2008, pending return of an indictment. Hatch remains in federal custody. It is anticipated that he will be arraigned in the next few days.
Several law enforcement agencies assisted ICE agents in the investigation: the St. Joseph County High Tech Crimes Unit, the Indiana State Police, and the St. Joseph County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
This case has been assigned to and will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth M. Hays.