Dotts is the most recent suspect to be charged in Operation Emissary, an ICE nationwide investigation targeting a website that offered images and movies of hardcore child pornography.
A grand jury in the Southern District of Indiana returned the indictment against Dotts on Feb. 27, 2008, but it was unsealed today after he surrendered himself to authorities. Dotts, who made his first appearance in court today, is charged with three counts of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography. If convicted, Dotts faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years for each count of receiving child pornography and a maximum of 10 years in prison for possessing child pornography. He also faces a fine of up to $250,000 per count. An indictment is merely a charge and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Operation Emissary, which began in 2006, focused on a commercial website offering access to videos and images of hardcore child pornography. The website alerted would-be subscribers that subscribing to the site was illegal and warned them to be discreet about their purchases. Investigators targeted individuals like Dotts who subscribed to the website over a period of approximately two to three months at the end of 2005 and 2006. More than 208 arrests have been made since June 2007 as part of the resulting nationwide sweep.
The investigation leading to this arrest was carried out under the auspices of ICE's Operation Predator and the U.S. Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood. The initiatives are a joint effort by federal, state and local law enforcement, along with community leaders, to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,000 individuals. The public is encouraged to report suspected child predators and suspicious activity through the following channels - ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE; and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
The case against Dotts is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D. DeBrota of the Southern District of Indiana and Trial Attorney Bonnie Kane of the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS).