James R. Howard, 22, of Peebles, Ohio, was sentenced in U.S. District Court Wednesday to 240 months in prison for possessing more than 2,400 images and videos of child pornography depicting violence against children under ten years old. He was also ordered to be under court supervision for the rest of his life.
Carter M. Stewart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge, HSI Michigan and Ohio, Adams County Sheriff K. R. Rogers and West Union Police Chief Roy Stricklett announced the sentence handed down today by Senior U.S. District Judge Sandra S. Beckwith.
"Children who are sexually exploited either physically or through the dissemination of child pornography suffer immeasurable harm," Moskowitz said. "While this significant sentence cannot repair the damage done, it should serve as a stark reminder that we are watching and the aggressive investigation and prosecution of child predators remains a high priority for HSI."
According to the court records, the West Union Police Department began investigating Howard following a complaint from a citizen and seized a laptop computer at Howard's residence November 15, 2011. Further investigation by the Adams County Sheriff's Office discovered another laptop computer in Howard's residence. Deputies seized the computer November 28, 2011. Forensic analysis of the second computer by the Miami Valley Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory uncovered the cache of child porn images and videos.
Howard was arrested December 2, 2011. He has been in custody since his arrest. Howard pleaded guilty April 4, 2012 to one count of receipt of child pornography and three counts of possession of child pornography.
"Public awareness and communication with law enforcement is the most vital link in combatting sexual exploitation of children," Stewart said. "I want to commend the prompt action by the West Chester Police and Sheriff Rogers' Office."
This 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-DHS-2ICE 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, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.