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Child Exploitation

Boise-area man pleads guilty to sexual exploitation of children

BOISE, Idaho - A 35-year old man from southwestern Idaho has pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges resulting from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force.

Robert William Hull, of Nampa, Idaho, pleaded guilty in federal court here Tuesday. Court documents reveal that during November 2010, detectives with the Saskatoon Police Service in Saskatchewan, Canada, conducted an Internet child exploitation investigation involving a Saskatchewan suspect. In a search executed at the suspect's Saskatoon residence, investigators determined that several online and e-mail accounts belonging to the suspect were used to distribute sexually explicit images of minors and communicate with other individuals involved with child pornography.

The investigators discovered that several messages had been exchanged between the Saskatchewan suspect and a user with an AOL e-mail address and mobile telephone account associated with an Idaho area code. Analysis of the messages revealed that pornographic images were attached of a child who appeared to be approximately 4 years old. A Canadian detective called the Idaho number to determine the identity of the owner of the phone, who identified himself as "Robert."

In late November 2010, ICE HSI and the Idaho opened a child pornography investigation involving the Saskatchewan suspect and an unknown individual in Nampa, Idaho, who investigators determined was the defendant, Hull. A search warrant was executed at Hull's residence in December 2010.

Hull's sentencing is set for May 16 in Boise before Chief U.S. District Judge Winmill. He faces up to 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a minimum of five years to lifetime supervised release on the charge of sexual exploitation of children and production of sexually explicit images of a minor.

"This case provides yet another cautionary reminder for child predators who mistakenly believe they can preserve their anonymity by sharing child pornography over the Internet," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge for ICE HSI in the Pacific Northwest. "Consider that the original case lead that ultimately resulted in the identification of the defendant in Idaho was actually developed by local Canadian law enforcement. HSI will continue to work closely with our colleagues here and around the world to ensure that cyberspace affords no protection for those who seek to prey upon and sexually exploit our nation's children."

This investigation is part of ICE's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children. ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.