This sentence was announced by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), the Colorado Springs Police Department, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
After he completes his prison sentence, Peter Robert James, 43, of Colorado Springs, Colo., was also ordered to spend 10 years on supervised release. Chief Judge Daniel also ordered James to pay restitution totaling $5,000 to the two victims of his crime, with each receiving $2,500. The defendant appeared at the hearing free on bond, and was remanded into custody at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing.
James was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver Feb. 27. He pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography before Chief Judge Daniel June 8, and was sentenced Oct. 22.
According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, on Aug. 10, 2010, a police officer in the Child Exploitation Section of the Sex Crimes Unit of the Toronto Police Service signed on to a file-sharing program account of an individual who had been arrested by the London Police Service for possessing child pornography. The Toronto police officer observed that a person using a specific username was online. The officer browsed the 14 top-level directories that the target was sharing.
While browsing the directories and subdirectories, the officer observed many child pornography images. The officer captured thumbnails of more than 3,000 of these browsed images. The collection of files was large and well-organized. The officer determined that the IP address of the username in question was registered to Comcast Cable with the user located in Colorado Springs. The officer ultimately downloaded 82 files from the target, which included 71 images and five videos of child pornography. The Toronto Police Department referred the findings of their investigation to HSI, who in turn referred the case to the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Coincidentally, also on Aug. 10, 2010, an FBI agent in California working in an undercover capacity signed into the same file-sharing program. The agent observed that an individual with the same username the Toronto officer had targeted was online and sharing files. The FBI agent browsed the target's shared directories and observed that he was sharing over 111,100 organized files totaling over 322 gigabytes of data. In these shared directories, the agent observed titles and thumbnails indicative of child pornography, and captured the thumbnails. The agent then downloaded 180 image files and five video files from the target. During the download the FBI agent observed the same IP address that the Toronto police officer observed. These two investigations occurred independently.
The California FBI agent passed the information along to the FBI in Colorado. A Colorado FBI agent conducted surveillance at the Colorado Springs address of the target IP address. The address consisted of a large horse stable with an attached business/customer area and a detached residential structure. Each time the agent conducted surveillance at the property, a vehicle registered to Peter James was parked directly in front of the residential structure. The agent passed his lead along to the Colorado Springs Police Department.
On Sept. 7, 2010, a Colorado Springs Police Department detective obtained a state search warrant for the address. On Sept. 8, 2010, a Colorado Springs Police Department and HSI team executed the search warrant. During the execution of the warrant, the detective contacted Peter James. During the course of the search warrant the special agents and officers determined that James used the username that was the target of the investigation. They also determined that he was the only one who had access to his computer, and that his computer contained the same file-sharing program. During the search, HSI special agents and Colorado Springs police officers recovered from the defendant's bedroom documents, passwords, a desktop computer, hard drives, a webcam, and CDs, among other things.
Investigators determined that the defendant obtained child pornography online. The defendant had about 300 gigabytes of child pornography on his external hard drive. He had spent the last 10 years collecting the child pornography.
A forensic review of the defendant's digital media revealed over 228,448 images of child pornography, and over 4,248 videos of child pornography in total. Of the 228,448 images of child pornography, at least 21,500 were "known" images - that is, images where prior cases had confirmed that the children pictured subsequently had been identified and rescued. Of the 4,248 videos of child pornography, at least 200 were "known" videos.
Forensic analysis also revealed that the defendant engaged in "chats" with other file-sharing users. In these chats, the defendant discussed his efforts to induce prepubescent boys to expose themselves during webcam sessions. James stated that in the chats he pretended to be an underage girl during the webcam sessions to induce the prepubescent boys to expose their genitalia. The defendant also stated that he showed the prepubescent boys with whom he was chatting videos taken from webcam sessions with prepubescent girls, and represented to the boys that he was one of the girls pictured in the videos.
"Our special agents from Homeland Security Investigations routinely work with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to identify, locate and prosecute those who sexually exploit children," said Kumar Kibble, special agent in charge of HSI Denver. "With partnerships like the one we enjoy with the Internet Crimes Against Children task force, predators can't hope to hide in cyberspace for long." Kibble oversees a four-state area including: Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.
"The U.S. Attorney's Office, and law enforcement in general, have the sober responsibility of prosecuting those responsible for the graphic sexual exploitation of children," said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. "The Colorado Springs community can be assured that the defendant will spend the next 15 years in prison, with an additional 10 years of supervision, and thus will be 68 years old when he will be free from court supervision."
"This case is an example of local Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces and Federal law enforcement working together to protect children," said Colorado Springs Police Sgt. Bill DeHart, who is the ICAC coordinator. "A dangerous predator has been held accountable for his actions and the community is safer."
This case was investigated by the Colorado Springs Police Department, ICAC, HSI and the FBI.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Bergsieker, District of Colorado, prosecuted this 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-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.