Nathaniel Josiah Worden, 29, of Valparaiso, Ind., pleaded guilty Feb. 8 in the Northern District of Indiana to a charge of advertising child pornography. Worden also admitted to being a convicted sex offender at the time he committed the offense.
According to the plea, Worden admitted that in March 2009 he contacted a person via the Internet that he believed to be a 14-year-old girl named Emily. Emily was in fact a law enforcement officer in Vermont. Worden further admitted to sending Emily child pornography and sending her camera equipment so that she could take pictures of herself. He also admitted to possessing about 600 images containing child pornography at that time.
Worden was previously convicted in October 2002 of sexual misconduct with a minor. He was sentenced to 10 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections (two years suspended) and was released in October 2006.
Worden faces a minimum of 25 years and up to 50 years in federal prison without parole. Sentencing has been scheduled for April 29.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Trumbull-Harris, Northern District of Indiana, is prosecuting the case.
"Those who seek to sexually exploit children should no longer expect distance or the anonymity of cyberspace to protect them," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. "Protecting children is a high priority for ICE, and we will continue to identify these child predators and bring them to justice, one by one."
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,000 individuals.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is 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.