CHEYENNE, Wyo. - A man from Onawa, Iowa, who posed as a modeling agency employee, was sentenced on Tuesday to 15 years in federal prison following his April guilty plea for producing child pornography.
Additionally, U.S. District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson ordered that Gabriel Simmons, 30, serve a life term of supervised release upon his release from imprisonment, pay restitution of $5,714 and pay an additional $100 to a special fund to benefit victims of crimes.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Cheyenne Police Department, as part of the Wyoming Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. The joint investigation revealed that over a period of nearly a year, Simmons had assumed an alias as an employee of a modeling agency, and had been communicating online with a 14-year-old female resident of Wyoming.
Simmons persuaded the girl to take sexually explicit photographs and videos of herself and send the images to him via the Internet. Additionally, Simmons sent the girl images depicting various explicit activity in an attempt to persuade her to engage in similar activity and then to send him images of the same. When the girl refused to comply with Simmons' request, he threatened her by claiming he would release images he had already obtained from her to her family and friends. The girl reported these communications to the local police who in turn contacted the Wyoming ICAC Task Force.
U.S. Attorney Christopher "Kip" Crofts, District of Wyoming, commented on Simmons' sentencing by stating, "The Wyoming U.S. Attorney's Office is deeply committed to targeting and prosecuting sexual predators, abusers, and pornographers who target the most innocent and vulnerable of our society - our children. Anyone who uses technology to unlawfully exploit our children will be vigorously prosecuted in the Federal Courts."
"Simmons' effort to blackmail a 14-year-old girl clearly demonstrates the depravity of those who target children for sexual exploitation," said David M. Marwell, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Denver. "The significant prison sentence that he received takes one more predator off the streets and off the Internet for a long, long time. Afterwards, he'll have to wear his well-earned 'sex-offender' label for the rest of his life. HSI will continue to pursue sexual predators of children throughout cyberspace and around the world." Marwell oversees a four-state area which includes Wyoming.
Cheyenne Police Chief Brian Kozak said, "We are proud to be part of this multi-agency task force to take down child predators. The lowest level of society, even among prison society, are those who victimize children."
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. 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.