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Child Exploitation

Fresno man sentenced to 30 years in prison for producing and distributing child pornography

FRESNO, Calif.- A Fresno man whose collection of child pornography is among the largest ever uncovered by local law enforcement has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for producing and distributing sexually explicit material of children.

Raymond William Ronell, Jr., 44, of Fresno, Calif., was sentenced here late yesterday by District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill. In addition to the jail time, Ronell will be subject to a life term of supervised release upon completion of his prison sentence.

This case is the product of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Fresno Police Department and the Fresno County Sheriff's Department Computer Crimes division. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California.

Ronell, who pleaded guilty to the charges last year, has been in custody since his arrest in November 2005. The charges against him stem from a child abduction investigation begun by the Fresno Police Department in November 2005 following the disappearance of a 12-year-old Fresno girl. The minor was recovered the day of her disappearance and Ronell became a suspect in that incident.

Court records reveal that during the investigation into the girl's disappearance, detectives seized a digital camera from Ronell's car. A forensic analysis of the camera resulted in the recovery of previously deleted, sexually explicit images of the girl that Ronell produced and stored on a memory card. In addition, a search warrant executed at Ronell's residence led to the seizure of five computer hard drives and various electronic storage devices. The seized items were ultimately found to contain several thousand still and video files of child pornography, including images of infants being sexually abused by adult males.

"Protecting our children from individuals like this defendant who prey upon and sexually exploit children is a top priority for ICE," said Mark Wollman, special agent in charge for the ICE office that oversees the agency's investigations in Sacramento. "Sexual predators should know that ICE will do everything in its power and use every tool at its disposal to keep our children safe - whether the potential victims are around the block or around the world."

"The lengthy sentence imposed by the court removes a child predator from our community," said United States Attorney McGregor W. Scott. "The protection of children will continue to be a top priority for this office and the Department of Justice."
Court documents characterize Ronell's collection of child pornography as one of the most extensive and extreme that has ever been encountered by law enforcement. After reviewing only a small number of child pornography images at the sentencing, the judge commented that the material made him nauseous, and that children had been tortured because people like the defendant created a demand for child pornography.

According to the court documents, an analysis of parts of Ronell's child pornography collection led to the identification of a minor victim who had been taken into protective custody in Indiana, as well as the arrest of a suspect in Iowa who later confessed to victimizing 23 minors, including six who were actively being molested at the time of the suspect's arrest in May 2006.