COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – A Post Falls man pleaded guilty Monday to production of child pornography, following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and several other law enforcement agencies.
Dylan Joral Ritter, 29, admitted to downloading Internet child pornography, to sexually abusing a 3-year-old relative and to taking photos of the abuse with his cellphone camera. Ritter came to the attention of law enforcement in May 2012 when an HSI special agent discovered he was sharing child pornography online. Investigators executed a search warrant in July 2012 at Ritter’s residence, seizing computer equipment and his cellphone. An examination of the cellphone by an HSI forensics expert located the images of the 3-year-old’s abuse.
The charge of sexual exploitation of a child by producing sexually explicit images is punishable by 15 to 30 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to lifetime supervised release. Ritter’s sentencing is set for Oct. 16 before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge at the federal courthouse in Coeur d’Alene.
In addition to HSI, the other agencies participating in the investigation included the Post Falls Police Department and the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Idaho District.
The 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 1-866-347-2423 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, 1-800-843-5678.
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.