COLUMBUS, Ohio – An Ohio man was sentenced to 30 years in prison for possession and receipt of child pornography following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations and members of the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
William H. Conner, 49, of Whitehall, Ohio, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 360 months in prison following his conviction on four counts of receipt and one count of possession of child pornography.
Carter M. Stewart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott, Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge, HSI Michigan and Ohio, and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien announced the sentence handed down Thursday by U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost.
"While this significant sentence cannot repair the permanent damage done to the children depicted in these images, it should serve as a warning to those who engage in this behavior: HSI and our partners will be relentless in our pursuit of online predators," said Moskowitz.
An undercover investigator patrolling the Internet in the fall of 2010 established a connection on two occasions through a peer-to-peer file-sharing program with a computer later determined to belong to Conner. They traced the Internet address to Conner's residence, obtained a search warrant and found computers and storage media containing hundreds of images of nude infant and toddler-age females being sexually abused by male adults. Conner was also in possession of a VHS tape he created in 1998 that depicted him engaged in sex acts with a then 6-year-old female.
Investigators arrested Conner on November 15, 2010. A grand jury indicted Conner on December 16, 2010. He was convicted in August 2011 after a three-day trial.
"Mr. Conner came to law enforcement's attention as a result of his downloading of child pornography via peer-to-peer software," Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Hunter wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court. "It was only then, through the investigative actions of the Franklin County ICAC and the courage of his previous child victims, that the curtains were finally pulled open on Conner's dark past."
Conner has been in custody since his arrest. His sentence includes a ten-year period of court supervision after he serves his prison time. While under supervised release, Conner must permit the installation of appropriate monitoring software upon any computer that he owns, uses or has access to that is connected to the Internet. He will also be required to register as a sex offender anywhere that he lives, works or goes to school.
Stewart commended the investigation by the Franklin County ICAC, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Hunter and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Casey Russo with Franklin County Prosecutor O'Brien's office, who prosecuted the case.
HSI, the federal partner on the Franklin County ICAC, assisted with the investigation and presented it for federal prosecution.
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-2-ICE 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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.