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Child Exploitation

Maryland man convicted of receipt and possession of child pornography

GREENBELT, Md. – A federal jury convicted Charles Johnson June 14 for receipt and possession of child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore.

According to testimony at the three day trial, Charles Johnson, 70, of Rockville, Md., was identified during a national operation targeting individuals accessing a website hosting child pornography. The evidence showed that between March 15 and March 19, 2010, Charles Johnson accessed 115 pages displaying images of child pornography. Witnesses testified that during the execution of a search warrant, Johnson confessed to downloading child pornography. He told HSI special agents that he needed the images to become sexually aroused. Evidence was presented showing that there were more than 300 images of child pornography on Johnson's computer. According to trial testimony, Johnson also provided access to his email account and dozens of emails were identified where Johnson engaged in online chats and exchanged stories about the raping of children.

Johnson faces a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years in prison, followed by up to lifetime of supervised release for receipt of child pornography and a maximum of 10 years in prison for possession of child pornography. U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr. has scheduled sentencing for Aug. 31 at 9:30 a.m.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States 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 individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the "resources" tab on the left of the page.

This 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-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney LisaMarie Freitas, assigned from the Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mara Zusman Greenberg.