HOUSTON — A local man pleaded guilty to two counts of producing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. At the time of the offense, he was a music teacher at Anderson Elementary School in the Spring Independent School District (ISD).
The case was investigated by U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office and the Houston Metro Internet Crimes against Children Task Force, with the assistance of the Spring ISD Police Department.
Derrick Gossett, 33, originally arrested on state charges, was taken into custody on child pornography allegations Sept. 6, 2013. He made his initial appearance shortly thereafter and was ordered into custody, where he has remained since that time.
"This case is particularly troubling due to the defendant's position of trust with young people," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Houston. "Some predators mistakenly believe the anonymity of cyberspace shields them from scrutiny. HSI remains committed to working with our local partners in our shared fight against those who sexually exploit children."
According to court information, Gossett used a Facebook profile he developed based on a former female student to solicit sexually explicit photographs that constituted child pornography from more than 150 young males. Gossett regularly used images he received from victims to extort additional images and videos containing child pornography. Not only did Gossett use the biographical information of a former student to elicit the child pornography images and videos from his victims, he created a fictitious woman "Katya" to communicate with and further manipulate the children. Victims have been identified throughout Texas, across the United States and in several foreign countries.
Authorities obtained a search warrant for Gossett's residence, at which time authorities seized a laptop computer, several thumb drives, cell phones and digital cameras. One external portable hard drive, found in a lock box inside Gosset's residence, was forensically analyzed and contained hundreds of files with images depicting young males ranging in age from 12 to 17 and in various stages of undress.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator 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.
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.