James M. Tanksley pleaded guilty Oct. 6 to two counts of receiving child pornography and possessing child pornography. He was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker in the Southern District of Indiana to six years and eight months in federal prison and a lifetime of supervised release.
During the plea and sentencing hearing, Tanksley admitted that he was a member of two Internet-based bulletin board groups that traded child pornography. The groups, comprised of members from around the world, could only be accessed via a unique username and password. The groups had very detailed rules for behavior, including requiring all members to post only sexualized images or videos depicting minors under the age of 18. Members were further required to post their images or videos in pre-established categories based on the type of material, such as hardcore videos or individual images of girls under the age of six.
Tanksley admitted to actively participating on both bulletin boards between June 2006 and May 2007. Tanksley also admitted to commenting on the quality of the child pornography he received from other members, expressing gratification upon seeing the images or videos, and describing the sexual acts the children, some younger than 6-years-old, were forced to endure. Tanksley also admitted to possessing child pornography.
"ICE does not tolerate children being sexual exploited," said Daniel T. Dill, resident agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Indianapolis. "We will continue to use all our resources to identify, target and investigate child predators. "It's one of ICE's primary missions to protect children from sexual abuse."
The investigation into Tanksley was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign national predators whose crimes make them deportable. Launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,600 individuals through Operation Predator.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. 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/.
This case was successfully prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D. DeBrota and Trial Attorney Alecia Riewerts Wolak of the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section in the Southern District of Indiana.