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Child Exploitation

Montana man sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexually exploiting children

MISSOULA, Mont. — A 42-year-old resident of Helena, Mont., was sentenced on Friday to 30 years in federal prison after he had pleaded guilty to sexually exploiting children.

U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy sentenced Raymond Dean Smith on Dec. 16 to 360 months in federal prison, to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release. Smith must serve at least 25.5 years in prison before he is eligible for parole.

The following agencies participated in this investigation: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Helena Police Department, the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, and the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Smith came to the attention of law enforcement in Helena as a suspect in numerous incidents where he is alleged to have entered residences without permission. In one incident, Smith was found hiding in a six-year-old child's closet. Smith pleaded guilty to that charge in Helena Justice Court on Feb. 16, 2011. However, he did not report to jail as sentenced, but fled the area. He was believed to be hiding in a relative's cabin in Jefferson County where he abandoned his property, including a computer, an external hard drive, several video cameras, and more.

A search warrant was served on Smith's residence on March 24, 2011, and numerous items of interest were seized. Included in the seizure were VHS tapes manufactured outside the state of Montana that contained child pornography images that Smith had produced of various girls under the age of 18. While searching the residence, law enforcement officers found that Smith had cut a hole in the wall between his bedroom and bathroom, where he could surreptitiously view people while they were showering. One of the videotapes found during the search was a video Smith had taken of an underage girl in the shower engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The taping of that activity occurred sometime between 2006 and 2009 in Lewis and Clark County.

During the investigation, law enforcement learned that Smith had sexual relationships with several underage girls. In one case, from 1996 through 1999 at Lewis and Clark County, Smith photographed and videotaped sexual activity with that girl when she was under the age of 18. A videotape was located. The tape indicated that the girl was unaware that the sexual activity was being videotaped.

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.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or 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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.