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Child Exploitation

Southwest Florida man sentenced to 7 years for possessing child pornography

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A southwest Florida man was sentenced Monday to 84 months in federal prison and 15 years of supervised release for possessing child pornography. The sentencing resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

According to court documents, Eugene Robert Otting, 41, of Lehigh Acres, Fla., used the Internet to locate and download child pornography. On April 19, HSI special agents executed a search warrant at Otting's residence. During the interview with HSI special agents, Otting admitted to using online peer-to-peer file sharing programs to access child pornography and to creating Facebook accounts and an email account for the purposes of sharing child pornography. A forensic examination of Otting's laptop computer, cellular phone and hard drive revealed numerous still images and videos depicting prepubescent minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. More than 600 images of child pornography were located on Otting's laptop and cellular phone.

"HSI received multiple reports from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's CyberTipLine that appeared to be linked. Upon further investigation, we determined that Otting was the common denominator, often utilizing free Wi-Fi at hotels to trade images and videos of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct," said Shane Folden, deputy special agent in charge of HSI Tampa, which oversees Ft. Myers. "Monday's sentencing is testament to the fact that HSI will aggressively investigate child predators and ensure that they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

Otting was ordered by the court to forfeit his Dell laptop, Metro PCS cellular phone and a Hitachi hard disk drive, which were used to commit the offense.

He pleaded guilty June 26.

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, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

HSI is a founding member and the U.S. representative of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.