PITTSBURGH — A Pennsylvania man has been has been charged with possession of child pornography. This case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Jeffrey W. Herschell, 52, of Washington, Pa., is charged with possession of images and videos in computer graphics files of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The ICE HSI investigation revealed that Herschell, a former uniformed security officer with a private company, was a customer of a group of individuals who were exploiting minors by viewing cyber sex shows that were broadcast via a webcam to customers around the world. The broadcast feed originated from the Philippines.
In 2000, Herschell pleaded guilty to corruption of minors and indecent assault charges and was sentenced to 23 months probation. In March 2011, HSI agents, with assistance from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Washington (Pa.) Police Department, executed a federal search warrant at Herschell's residence and seized computers and various electronic storage media. A forensic review of the evidence found child pornography on a thumb drive, CD and on both Herschell's laptop and desktop computer. In August 2011, he was indicted on possession of child pornography charges.
"HSI is determined to bring online predators to justice," said John P. Kelleghan, special agent in charge of HSI in Philadelphia. "These despicable crimes deprive our children of their innocence and negatively impact their lives for a long time."
If convicted, Herschell could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE 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. ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE. 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.
This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania.