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Child Exploitation

New Castle child pornographer sentenced to 30 years in prison

PITTSBURGH - Kelly Hardy, 40, of  New Castle, Pa., was sentenced on October 4 in federal court to 30 years in prison followed by a life term of supervised release and restitution for violating federal child exploitation laws. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

According to court records, Hardy transported, received, and possessed thousands of videos and images of minor children, some as young as infants, engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The videos and images depicted the vaginal and anal penetration of very young children. Prior to being arrested, Hardy had expressed a desire to break into homes to rape and kill young girls. The investigation revealed that Hardy had a sexual relationship with a minor over the course of several years and had pursued other minors for the purpose of engaging in sexual relationships with them. Hardy used computers and the internet to commit his crimes.

When Hardy was arrested in 2008, he possessed 14 desktop computers, three laptop computers, 60 hard drives, more than 4,000 CDs and digital versatile discs, over 3,000 floppy disks, 8 thumb drives, 36 zip disks, two camcorders, one palm pilot, one digital camera, one 35 mm camera, two webcams, one cell phone and more than 800 video tapes.

"The content of evidence agents seized from this man was appalling," said John P. Kelleghan, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Philadelphia. "We seized thousands of images from scores of computer hard drives, and thousands of other electronic storage media. We want the community to know that ICE and the law enforcement community will work tirelessly to protect children."

ICE HSI investigated this case with support from the Pennsylvania State Police, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the New Castle Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig W. Haller prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States. The investigation that led to this case 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 more than 12,800 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.