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Child Exploitation
04/22/2014

Registered child sex offender sentenced to prison for receipt of child pornography

WILMINGTON, Del. — A 64-year-old Georgetown, Del., man was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in federal prison for receipt of child pornography. The sentencing follows an investigation by the Delaware Child Predator Task Force and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

William Zimmerman was also sentenced to 10 years of supervised release following his prison sentence. He also will be required to continue to register as a sex offender in any jurisdiction in which he lives, works, or attends school.

Zimmerman was previously convicted 1988 in Delaware of unlawful sexual contact second degree and possession of child pornography in 1993. He served four years in prison for the child pornography offense, and was released from custody in 1997. At the time of the instant offense, he was registered as a sex offender as required by Delaware and federal law.

"HSI special agents in Wilmington will continue to work tirelessly with our partners of the Delaware Child Predator Task Force and the U.S. Attorney's Office to bring child sexual predators to face justice and to ensure that those victims who are identified are rescued from this plight," said HSI Philadelphia Special Agent in Charge John P. Kelleghan. "This sentencing is a reminder to those who exploit our most innocent citizens, children: We will identify, investigate and arrest you for committing these horrendous crimes."

According to statements made and documents filed in court, Zimmerman came to the attention of the task force during its investigation of Roger Cordero and David Pennington, two other registered child sex offenders living in Delaware, who had met while incarcerated at the Smyrna Correctional Institution for other child sexual offenses. In December 2012, the task force conducted residential searches at Cordero and Pennington's residences. They recovered computers containing thousands of images of child pornography and handwritten stories relating to child sexual abuse from Cordero's residence, and found a cellphone referencing child pornography images at Pennington's residence.

Pennington, who was then wearing an electronic monitoring device due to a state probation violation, provided the task force officers with information about Zimmerman, whom Pennington met in sex offender therapy. In particular, Pennington admitted that he and Zimmerman viewed child pornography together on a computer located at Zimmerman's residence. They did this at Zimmerman's residence because Pennington was on active probation and was prohibited from possessing a computer in his residence. Pennington also admitted that Zimmerman had sent him cellphone text messages attaching images of child pornography.

On Jan. 8, 2013, task force officers executed a state search warrant at Zimmerman's Georgetown residence. They recovered several pieces of computer equipment found to contain more than 2,300 images of child pornography. The images featured children, mostly boys, ranging in age from infancy to mid-teen, who were posed or engaged in sexual acts with adult males.

In the spring 2013, the Delaware Attorney General's Office referred the Cordero and Zimmerman cases to the United States Attorney's Office for federal prosecution. The Delaware Attorney General's Office proceeded with a state prosecution of David Pennington, which resulted in Pennington being sentenced to 28 years in prison in October 2013.

U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly, III stated, "With the active cooperation of state and federal authorities, three serious child predators have been taken into custody. Zimmerman and Pennington have pleaded guilty and received sentences of 15 and 28 years. Cordero is scheduled for trial in June 2014 and faces a mandatory minimum term of 35 to 60 years of incarceration if convicted. These cases serve as an example of what can be achieved through the mutual cooperation of state and federal law enforcement."

Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden credited the Delaware Child Predator Task Force with identifying all three defendants after receiving a CyberTip in late 2012 from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

"These individuals will never again be a threat to children. After receiving a CyberTip the Child Predator Task Force worked quickly to uncover a child pornography network operating locally in our State and took three dangerous predators off the streets," said Biden. "Thanks to its excellent investigation and to our strong partnership with state and federal law enforcement agencies we're using the full force of the law to protect children."

All three cases were brought as part of the U.S. Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood Program, which was launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of online child sexual exploitation and abuse. Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue child victims. Under this program, the Delaware Attorney General's Office, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Delaware State Police and HSI Wilmington have worked together to investigate and prosecute Zimmerman, Cordero and Pennington.

The investigation is part of HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line 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 & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

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.