WILMINGTON, Del. - James C. Peterson, 36, of Wilmington, Del., was sentenced to 9 years in prison on June 9 for transportation of child pornography, in violation of federal law. This case resulted from investigations by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and High Technology Crimes Unit of the Delaware State Police.
Peterson came to the attention of various law enforcement agencies, including the Delaware State Police and ICE, as he traded child pornography online. On June 5, 2008, the Delaware State Police conducted a search of Peterson's residence that yielded computers and digital media found to contain more than 16,000 still images and 140 videos of child pornography. The Delaware State Police also completed a search of Peterson's AOL accounts, which revealed that he had traded child pornography via email with approximately 40 different individuals. ICE had independently identified Peterson as a trader of child pornography after finding emails containing child pornography on the computer of another child pornography defendant in Indiana.
The investigation also revealed that, for more than two years prior to his arrest, Peterson had been engaging in online conversations with a person who he believed to be a 14-year-old boy from New York. In reality, Peterson was communicating with a Nassau County police detective. Peterson sent numerous computer files containing child pornography to the undercover detective and discussed meeting him in New York and Wilmington to engage in unlawful sexual conduct.
Following his arrest, Peterson told law enforcement officers that they would find numerous images of child pornography on his computer, which he downloaded to a folder labeled "VYB." He explained that this was an abbreviation for "very young boys." Peterson estimated that the youngest child depicted in his collection was about two years old.
"Prolific traders of hardcore child pornography like Mr. Peterson should expect that they will come to the attention of law enforcement agencies that are working together to identify them," stated David C. Weiss, acting United States Attorney for the District of Delaware. "Once identified, they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
During his sentencing, Peterson claimed to have been sexually abused as a child. When imposing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson, said, "You became your childhood's nightmare."
She also sentenced Peterson to 10 years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term. He also will be required to register as a sex offender in any jurisdiction in which he lives, works or attends school.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative launched in 2003 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.
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.