PITTSBURGH - A member of an international group of child pornography collectors has pleaded guilty in federal court in Pittsburgh to a charge of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise. Dave Dean, 42, used a social networking site to distribute thousands of sexually explicit images to other collectors. Dean previously resided in Texas and Arizona.
The court record established that from Jan. 1, 2007, to Sept. 22, 2009, Dean engaged in a child exploitation enterprise through a series of felony child pornography violations. Specifically, Dean and others distributed images and videos of children being sexually abused to other members of a closed international group that had formed on a social networking website. Members of the group distributed thousands of sexually explicit images and videos of children to each other, many of which were of prepubescent, male children, some as young as infants, being graphically sexually abused and sometimes sodomized or subjected to bondage.
The law provides for a total sentence of not less than 20 years and up to life in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the High Tech Investigative Unit of the Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Dean. Trial attorney Barak Cohen of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig W. Haller prosecuted the case.
This investigation is 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 12,800 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.