ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A federal grand jury in Alaska yesterday indicted a 45-year-old Massachusetts man on charges of interstate travel with intent to engage in a sexual act with a child under the age of 12, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
John Mark Felton, of Boston, traveled to Alaska earlier this week with the intent of engaging in a sexual act with a 6-year-old boy. ICE agents arrested him at Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage upon his arrival in Alaska.
According to court documents, Felton began chatting online in February 2008 with an individual he thought was going to make the young boy available to him to be sexually abused. He was, in fact, chatting with an undercover ICE agent.
"Identifying and investigating those who seek to victimize children is one of the most important responsibilities ICE has," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations that oversees Alaska. "ICE will continue to aggressively investigate this type of crime in hopes of deterring future incidents."
This case is being investigated as 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 under 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.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.