FORT WORTH, Texas - U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Bleil ordered detention pending trial for a north Texas man who was arrested last week on a complaint charging him with receiving child pornography. The order was announced by U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks, Northern District of Texas; the case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
During an undercover investigation, ICE agents discovered that a computer at the Euless, Texas, residence of Stacy Onken, 37, was being downloaded with child pornography from the Internet. At the Oct. 20 hearings, evidence was presented that Onken voluntarily stated that he had viewed and downloaded child pornography videos on his personal computers, using the peer-to-peer file sharing network, "Limewire." Onken knew that files containing child pornography on his computers were being shared and "uploaded" by other Limewire users. ICE is forensically analyzing the computers seized from Onken's residence.
A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offenses charged, and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The penalty for receiving child pornography is a maximum statutory sentence, per count, of not less than five or more than 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a lifetime of supervised release. The U.S. Attorney's office has 30 days to present the matter to a grand jury for indictment.
This investigation is 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 11,600 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.
This case is being prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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 to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex C. Lewis, Northern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.