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Child Exploitation

Cocoa man sentenced to 27 years in federal prison on child pornography charges

ORLANDO, Fla. — A Cocoa man was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison Thursday for soliciting a minor to have sex and producing child pornography. He was also ordered to forfeit an Apple iPhone which he used to commit the offenses. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Brevard County Sheriff's Office.

According to court documents, Phillip Beyel, 28, sent a text message Dec. 31, 2011, from his iPhone to the minor victim's iPhone. In that text message, he solicited the minor victim to engage in sex. Beyel then went to the minor victim's home, picked her up and transported her to a nearby hotel. At the hotel, Beyel had sex with the minor and produced a video of the two engaging in the act.

On Jan. 1, 2012, law enforcement monitored a controlled phone call between Beyel and the minor victim where the two discussed the sexual activity that took place Dec. 31, 2011.

A forensic examination of Beyel's iPhone revealed several videos and photographs depicting sexual acts between Beyel and the minor victim, including the video made Dec. 31, 2011.

"HSI and our law enforcement partners are determined to find and arrest individuals who prey on minors," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa, which oversees the agency's Cocoa Beach office that investigated this case. "Child exploitation is one of the most heinous crimes we investigate, and I assure you, we will make sure these predators are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Beyel pleaded guilty to the charges Sept. 25.

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 1-866-347-2423 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.