LOS ANGELES — An Antelope Valley man pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to a federal charge of producing child pornography, admitted that he used his camera phone to make videos while he molested a 3-month-old relative.
Robert Dale Schrader, 33, of Littlerock, California, pleaded guilty to the charge before U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess, who scheduled a sentencing hearing for Aug. 18. At sentencing, Schrader faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison, and he could be ordered to serve up to 30 years in custody.
According to court documents, authorities began investigating Schrader in January after he communicated via email with an undercover law enforcement officer based in England. In those emails, Schrader sent sexually explicit images of an infant, and data embedded in those images led authorities to Schrader's Littlerock home.
Investigators executed a federal search warrant Jan. 29 at Schrader's residence, where they rescued the infant who had been molested. Authorities discovered approximately 200 child pornography images and videos depicting the baby.
The case against Schrader is the result of an investigation by the Child Exploitation Investigations Group, a multiagency task force based in Long Beach spearheaded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Other agencies actively involved in the group include the Los Angeles Police Department, the FBI and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
This probe was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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-THE-LOST.