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Child Exploitation

Wisconsin man sentenced to 30 years in prison for producing child pornography

Sexually assaulted 18-month-old during live Skype video chats

MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin man was sentenced Tuesday to 30 years in prison for producing child pornography with an 18-month-old child, announced John W. Vaudreuil, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin. The sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation, and the Vernon County Sherriff's Department.

Michael Eales, 23, of Westby, Wis., was sentenced Oct. 29 by U.S. District Judge William M. Conley to 30 years in prison on each of two counts of manufacturing child pornography. Eales pleaded guilty to the charges Aug. 16. The two 30-year prison terms will be served concurrently. Judge Conley ordered Eales' 30-year prison sentence to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release, finding Eales is likely to pose a danger to children after his release.

Eales repeatedly sexually assaulted an 18-month-old child during live Skype video chats with an individual in Louisiana who recorded four of the live visual depictions. Law enforcement agents in Louisiana recovered the recordings during forensic analysis of that individual's computer pursuant to a search warrant.

HSI special agents, in cooperation with other federal and local law enforcement agencies, executed a federal search warrant at Eales' residence June 20 and confirmed his identity as the adult male in the recordings. Eales admitted to sexually assaulting the child depicted in the recordings about 20 times.

"This office is committed to vigorously prosecuting violent offenders such as Eales who target the most vulnerable members of our community, said Vaudreuil. "This 30-year sentence sends a clear message that there is no place in a civilized society for people like him."

"Eales' reprehensible behavior has damaged an innocent child's life in ways that may never be repaired," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of HSI Chicago. "This sentencing should send a strong message to child predators that HSI and our partners will search them out and hold them accountable before the law. Words cannot describe the harm that these crimes inflict on children."

Vaudreuil also praised the outstanding coordinated response by local and federal law enforcement officials, saying, "This is another example of the teamwork we are so proud of in the Western District of Wisconsin."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith P. Duchemin, Western District of Wisconsin, successfully prosecuted the case.

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 1-866-347-2823 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.