FRESNO, Calif. — A Fresno man convicted of viewing child pornography at a local public library was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison, following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Central California Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC).
Victor Duane Smith, 59, was sentenced by Judge Anthony W. Ishii, who also ordered the defendant to pay $5,000 to a child shown in five of the images he received. According to court documents, in July 2013, law enforcement began tracking an individual who was using the Fresno County Public Library's public wireless system to view child pornography through a file-sharing program. Investigators were able to watch Smith in the library while he used the program. Smith later confessed to the offense.
"The sentence is a stern reminder about the consequences facing those who use the Internet to sexually exploit innocent children," said Mike Prado, resident agent in charge of HSI Fresno. "The fact this defendant was accessing child pornography in a public place where young people and their families congregate makes his actions even more disturbing. HSI will continue to work with its law enforcement partners here in the Fresno area and across the country to target child sexual predators who mistakenly believe they can act with impunity in cyberspace."
In addition to HSI and the Central Valley ICAC, the Fresno County Sheriff's Office also provided substantial assistance with the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael G. Tierney is prosecuting the case.
This case was brought under the auspices of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Project Safe Childhood and HSI's Operation Predator. Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide DOJ initiative launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.
HSI's Operation Predator is an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since its launch in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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-THE-LOST.