PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A New Jersey man with three convictions for crimes against children, including convictions for child endangerment and aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 13, has been arrested in Providence on charges of interstate travel to engage in illicit sexual acts with a minor, enticement of a minor and distribution of child pornography.
Donald J. Jones, III, 46, of Pemberton, N.J., was taken into custody after traveling from his home in New Jersey to Rhode Island in an alleged scheme to engage in sexual activity with a minor in a case investigated jointly with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Jones made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Providence on Monday on a federal criminal complaint charging him with interstate travel to engage in sex with a minor, using the Internet to solicit a minor to engage in sexual activity, and distribution of child pornography over the Internet. U.S District Court Magistrate Judge David L. Martin ordered Jones detained.
"The allegations underlying Friday's arrest are a grim reminder that there are individuals who would go to great lengths to victimize those who are the most vulnerable - our children," stated U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha. "Parents must of course take the lead in protecting their children, but they should be reassured that this office, working with our federal, state and local partners, will continue to identify and apprehend those who target children."
U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Inspector in Charge Robert Bethel added, "Because the demand that creates the market for child pornography can only be satisfied by sexually abusing more children, the Postal Inspection Service will remain vigilant focusing on these insidious individuals who dare prey on our children."
The USPS and ICE HSI agents are assigned to a task force of federal, state and local law enforcement agents operating under the direction of the Rhode Island State Police Computer Crimes Unit/Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC).
"The ICAC Task Force is a fine example of the cooperative efforts of federal, state, and local agencies and their ability to successfully investigate and apprehend a dangerous criminal," stated Lt. Col. Raymond S. White, acting superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police. "The grave threat this suspect posed to young children is clear based upon the elaborate and organized steps he was willing to take in order to plan and carry out his intended crime."
According to court documents and information presented in court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Rogers, in late March, 2011, postal inspectors initiated an undercover investigation for pedophiles on the Internet, focusing on forums commonly utilized to trade child pornography and chat with others of similar interests. Investigators observed a posting by an individual later identified as Donald Jones, III, which allegedly indicated that he was seeking a very young female whose mother or father would allow him to engage in sex with their child. A postal inspector, posing as a parent, responded. Over a two week period, Jones regularly communicated with the undercover inspector and transmitted numerous videos containing child pornography before making arrangements to travel to Rhode Island to allegedly engage in sexual acts with a minor female.
Jones faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years in prison if convicted on charges contained in the criminal complaint.
According to the State of New Jersey sex offender registry, Donald J. Jones, III, is a level 2 child sex offender, convicted in 1993 on charges of aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Both offenses were against a female under the age of 13.
The increased attention to protecting children from Internet-based crimes has led to record numbers of arrests by the Rhode Island State Police /ICAC Task Force and state and federal prosecutions since 2009.
Over the past year and a half, Rhode Island State Police/ICAC Task Force arrests have increased over 500%. Nationally, more than 8,600 people have been prosecuted at the federal level since October, 2006. The Rhode Island ICAC Task Force and postal inspectors were assisted by ICE HSI agents in New Jersey and the U.S. Marshals Service.