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Child Exploitation
12/06/2012

Sex offender sentenced to 12 years for possession of child pornography

SEATTLE — An Anacortes man with a prior conviction for a child sex offense was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography, following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Mount Vernon and Anacortes police departments.

Phillip L. Taylor, 45, pleaded guilty in August to the latest charges. He was previously convicted of the same crime in 1999. The latest violations came to light after detectives with the Bedford County Sheriff's Office in Virginia discovered a peer-to-peer account sharing child pornography on the Internet. A state search warrant was served at Taylor's residence after Anacortes and Mount Vernon detectives linked the Internet Protocol address sharing child pornography in the Virginia investigation to Taylor. At the time, Taylor was out of town on a business trip. When he returned, he appeared to cooperate with authorities by turning over his work laptop computer. Investigators learned however that Taylor switched the laptop for another at his work. His deception was exposed when his employer reported the theft of a laptop from an area that Taylor supervised.

Forensic analysis of the computers found in Taylor's residence and a thumb drive he had with him during the business trip revealed thousands of images and videos of child pornography. Most of the images and videos had been deleted but were still present in unallocated space on the laptop hard drive and his thumb drive. He was arrested in October 2011 on state charges and transferred to federal custody following his indictment in May by a federal grand jury.

"I am overwhelmed by the harm caused to the young people who are victims," said U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly at sentencing. "They will never be able to put this to rest because of the pictures that are out there on the Internet."

In asking for the 12 year sentence prosecutors pointed out Taylor's culpability in victimizing children saying: "Every participant in the chain - producer, distributor, consumer - sustains the market for these images, and each victim, whether identified or not, suffers not only when an image of him or her is created, but each and every time an image of him or her is viewed."

"It's a horrifying fact that by trading child pornography on the Internet, offenders like Taylor effectively sentence those depicted to a lifetime of victimization," said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. "It was a proactive undercover child predator operation on the other side of the country that led to his arrest. As this case demonstrates, HSI and authorities around the nation are aggressively targeting these offenders to bring them to justice."

Taylor has a history of downloading and sharing child pornography. In 1999 he was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison for the same crime. While still on supervised release for that conviction, he was caught chatting online about offering a 12-year-old girl for sex. For that violation, his release was revoked and he was incarcerated for an additional year.

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, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).

HSI is a founding member and the U.S. representative 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.