OCALA, Fla. — A central Florida man was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in federal prison for distribution of child pornography. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Wildwood Police Department and the Brevard County Sheriff's Office.
According to court records, on Nov. 2, HSI Cocoa Beach received information from an investigator with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office in Georgia that a person in Florida had used an Internet chat service to trade child pornography that day. That person, who was later determined to be William Christopher Dempsey, 30, of Wildwood, Fla., had also mentioned in a chat that he was sexually molesting a 3-year-old. HSI, the Brevard County Sheriff's Office and the Wildwood Police Department launched an immediate investigation and determined the Internet activity originated from Dempsey's girlfriend's house in Wildwood. Dempsey was residing there.
Shortly after midnight, the law enforcement special agents and officers executed a search warrant at the residence and arrested Dempsey. Evidence obtained during the investigation showed that Dempsey had been actively involved in collecting child pornography and that he had molested a young child.
"Child exploitation is one of the most heinous crimes we investigate. HSI and our law enforcement partners were able to quickly respond to this situation and prevent Dempsey from abusing any additional children," said Sue McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa, which oversees the agency's Cocoa Beach office. "HSI works diligently to ensure that child predators are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Dempsey pleaded guilty to the charge April 17.
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.