This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney John Walsh, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Kumar Kibble.
Following his prison sentence, Steven Raines, 35, of Fort Wayne, Ind., was also ordered by U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson to serve a life time on supervised release. Raines appeared at the hearing in custody, and was remanded immediately after.
Raines was first charged by Criminal Complaint July 2, 2012. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver July 9. He pleaded guilty Oct. 24. And he was sentenced Jan. 22.
According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, on April 1, 2012, an HSI special agent based in Glenwood Springs, Colo., was chatting online in an undercover capacity. Specifically, the special agent's undercover persona was that of a single mother of two daughters under the age of 16. The undercover special agent (undercover) entered a chat room, accessible by anyone, whose topic focused on sex with children. While in the chat room, the undercover engaged in a chat with an individual who expressed interest in having sex with the undercover and her two minor children. The individual went on to say that he had been searching for 20 years for someone like the undercover who would provide sexual access to her children, and that he discovered that he was a "pedo" when he was 15. He also said that he had been previously accused of molesting a child to whom he had access, and that he previously attempted to meet someone like the undercover in person, but the person failed to show up.
The individual continued chatting and emailing with the undercover by using his smart phone for the next three months. He told the undercover that he did not have a computer. Eventually investigators identified the individual as 35-year old Steven Raines, who lived in Fort Wayne, Ind. As the chats between Raines and the undercover progressed, Raines began to send pictures, some of which depicted child pornography. Eventually Raines and the undercover began to make plans for him to travel to Colorado in order to have sex with, or rape, the two young girls. The defendant's main interest, however, was the child who was under the age of 6. He discussed wanting to father a child with the undercover. Raines also discussed other children he knew from church or his neighborhood, in whom he had a sexual interest and with whom he attempted to have some sort of contact.
As the travel plans were finalized, Raines stated that he was going to bring his child pornography collection with him to Colorado in order to "teach" the girls, and stated an interest in producing child pornography with the undercover and the two minor girls. The content of the child pornography he was bringing featured mostly prepubescent females engaged in sexual acts and included sadistic or masochistic conduct. During the communications between Raines and the undercover, he made statements about both of his children, and about sexually molesting a minor child to whom he had access, and that he produced images of child pornography of him sexually abusing that child.
The defendant began his travel to Colorado June 29, 2012. He sent texts to the undercover throughout the trip. On June 30, near Topeka, Kan., the defendant's van broke down. He rented a vehicle to complete his journey. On June 30, the defendant arrived at a residence in Garfield County, Colo., which was the address provided to him by the undercover. After arriving, he was taken into custody. Special agents and officers seized Raines' cell phone, which has the capacity to take photographs and video. The phone contained about 130 still images and 84 videos of child pornography. During a lawful search of Raines' home, special agents and officers found various discs containing child pornography. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children identified 23 known series of child pornography featuring real child victims among the images the defendant had on his cell phone and in his email.
"Sexually exploiting children carries extraordinarily severe penalties - decades in federal prison, followed by a life term of supervised release," said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. "It is a top priority of the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Department of Justice to protect children by prosecuting predators such as Raines."
"This significant prison sentence removes another child predator from the streets for decades to come, which helps protect children everywhere," said Kumar C. Kibble, special agent in charge of HSI Denver. "Unfortunately, there are many predators like Steven Raines who pretend to lead normal lives. But our HSI special agents, partnering with other law enforcement agencies, go to extraordinary lengths to help protect and rescue these child victims, while also targeting and prosecuting those who prey on them."
This case was investigated by HSI and the Garfield County Sheriff's Office. HSI Indianapolis and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Fort Wayne, Ind., also played an important role in this investigation and prosecution.
Raines was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle Heldmyer and ICE Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lillian Alves, with support from Assistant U.S. Attorney Alecia Riewerts Wolak.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI 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. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 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, 1-800-843-5678.
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.