URBANA, Ill. - A local man accused of sexually exploiting a minor to produce child pornography was arrested Wednesday and charged in federal court on Thursday. The charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Matthew Aukamp, 43, of Macon, Ill., was arrested April 7 and charged in the Central District of Illinois on April 8 with producing child pornography. He was ordered detained in federal custody pending trial by U.S. Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal. Trial has been scheduled for June 14.
On April 6, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Aukamp with one count of producing and two counts of possessing child pornography. Further, the indictment seeks criminal forfeiture of digital cameras, a video camera, computer equipment and related items used in the commission of the alleged offenses.
According to the indictment, between Oct. 31, 2004 and Mar. 14, 2008, Aukamp allegedly coerced a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct and produced images of child pornography with the child. The indictment further alleges that Aukamp possessed child pornography.
If convicted, Aukamp faces a minimum of 15 years and up to 30 years in prison for producing child pornography. For each count of possessing child pornography the penalty is up to 10 years in prison. Both offenses carry terms of supervised release of up to life following any term of imprisonment.
ICE was assisted in the investigation by the Macon County Sheriff's Department and the Decatur Police Department. Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
"Sexually exploiting children is a crime that has traumatic effects on the most vulnerable members of our society," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago "ICE and its law enforcement partners work tirelessly to investigate child predators who seek to sexually exploit innocent children."
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE 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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,000 individuals.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. 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.