LAKE CHARLES, La. - Christopher J. Comeaux, of Leesville, La., was convicted yesterday of production and possession of child pornography following a two-day trial and only 30 minutes of jury deliberation, following an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
Comeaux, 34, was named in a two-count federal indictment after the mother of the 10-year-old victim notified authorities of the suspected abuse and turned over to authorities a computer containing thousands of hardcore child pornography images.
According to trial testimony, Comeaux had been molesting the girl for over a year before he produced child pornography. When the girl's mother left town, the defendant videotaped the girl while he sexually assaulted her.
Comeaux faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, a $ 250,000 fine, or both, and a lifetime of supervised release upon his release from prison.
Comeaux's sentencing is set for March 11. Sentencing in federal court is determined by the discretion of federal judges and the governing statute. Parole has been abolished in the federal system.
"All children have an absolute right to grow up free from the fear of sexual exploitation," said Michael A. Holt, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in New Orleans. "ICE relentlessly pursues predators who sexually abuse children, whether that abuse is physical in nature or if it's accomplished by exploiting their images. The conviction of this man sends a strong message that ICE does not tolerate such despicable crimes. Our agents will continue to police cyberspace to investigate and bring to justice those individuals who exploit the most vulnerable segment of our society - our children"
U. S. Attorney Donald Washington stated: "This office will continue to aggressively pursue predators of innocent children, which will be met by vigorous investigations and prosecutions seeking maximum punishment."
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Luke Walker prosecuted this case.
The investigation 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 almost 12,000 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.