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Child Exploitation

Panama City man sentenced to 15 years in federal prison on child pornography charges

PANAMA CITY, Fla. – A Panama City man was sentenced Wednesday to 180 months in federal prison and 10 years of supervised release for receipt and possession of child pornography following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Bay County Sheriff's Office.

Robert E. Eldridge, 43, admitted that between Jan. 1, 2012 and March 21, 2012, he downloaded more than 35 videos and 160 images depicting child pornography from a peer-to-peer file sharing network.

"Individuals who trade images and videos of innocent children should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," said Shane Folden, deputy special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. "In this case, local and federal law enforcement worked together to do just that."

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 1-866-347-2423 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.