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Child Exploitation
02/25/2013

South Carolina man pleads guilty to manufacturing child porn

COLUMBIA, SC — A South Carolina man pleaded guilty Monday to the manufacture and transportation of child pornography in federal court in Florence following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Gerald E. Roberts, age 52, of Pageland, was arrested after HSI's Cyber Crime Center, Victim Identification Program, discovered images of a minor female, approximately four to six years of age, involved in sexually explicit activity with an adult male, which were being posted on the internet in October 2012. The investigation revealed that between January 2010 and August 2012, in Greene and Christian counties, Missouri, Roberts persuaded the child to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing child pornography. Further investigation determined that Roberts was distributing the child pornography on the internet from a residence in North Myrtle Beach. A search was conducted of Roberts' residence on Nov. 8, 2012, at which time the child pornography images which he had produced were recovered, as well as a large amount of other child pornography. Roberts was arrested at that time.

"The consequences of this heinous crime on the defendant's innocent victim cannot be understated," said Brock D. Nicholson, special agent in charge of HSI Atlanta. "When a potential victim of a predator is identified, HSI special agents are relentless in their efforts to find and protect that child.

The maximum penalty Roberts can receive is a fine of $250,000.00 and/or imprisonment for 30 years, plus a special assessment of $100.00.

This investigation was also 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.