PANAMA CITY, Fla. – A Northwest Florida man was sentenced Wednesday to 45 years in federal prison and a lifetime of supervised release for producing child pornography. The sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
On June 21, 2012, Donyel James Fitts, 28, of Sneads, persuaded and coerced a 4-year-old child to engage in sexually explicit conduct, so that he could photograph the minor. On two occasions in October, he videotaped the 4-year-old child engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
"Our prosecutors and law enforcement professionals will continue to actively investigate and charge offenders who target our children by photographing and videotaping such despicable acts," said U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh.
"This case exemplifies the important role local and federal law enforcement partnerships play in putting child predators behind bars," said Shane Folden, deputy special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Tampa, which oversees the Panama City office that investigated this case. "Let this sentence serve as a warning to other predators. We will find you, arrest you and ensure that you are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
The investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI 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. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 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, 1-800-843-5678.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.