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Child Exploitation

North Carolina man sentenced in Montana federal court to 15 years for sexually exploiting children

HELENA, Mont. — A North Carolina man was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in federal prison following his guilty plea to sexually exploiting children, announced U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter, District of Montana.

Theodore J. Castine, 54, of Mooresville, N.C., was also sentenced to a lifetime of supervised release by Senior U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia K. Hurd, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

  • On Sept. 15, 2011, the Helena Police Department received a report from a 14-year-old girl that she had been receiving threatening and harassing text messages from a cell phone number. During the course of the investigation, the girl indicated she had been contacted by an unknown subject via Facebook asking to exchange "bikini" pictures. The subject provided the same cell phone number daring her to send pictures because the subject told the girl she was "hot." The girl told officers that a couple of text messages she received from the subject contained photographs of two different young girls, naked and exposing their genitalia in a lewd and lascivious manner. The girl said the subject was demanding photographs in the same fashion to be sent via picture messaging.
  • The girl indicated that the subject began harassing her about sending nude photographs of herself, including that if she did not send naked photographs, like those that had been sent to her instructing her how to pose, the subject indicated she would not like what was going to happen when he found her. The girl said she felt compelled and was fearful if she refused the orders of the subject sending her the messages. The girl took two naked photographs of herself posing in a lascivious exhibition of her genitals and sent them via her cell phone to the subject.
  • Law enforcement took over the girl's accounts and found the messages. On the girl's phone, detectives found the two text messages sent to the girl including photographs of juvenile females; both images sent by the subject are child pornography.
  • Detectives continued communication with the subject pretending to be the girl. The subject threatened to share the photos the girl sent initially by posting them on the Internet, demanded more photos, and sent more child pornography photos. Detectives sent corrupt files through interstate commerce to the subject. The subject indicated he was having difficulty viewing those images and demanded the girl use a friend's cell phone to take more photographs.
  • The subject was finally identified as Castine of Mooresville, N.C. Castine continued to text and email the girl's accounts threatening to post the images unless she provided more.
  • On Oct. 7, 2011, Castine emailed her three threatening emails, ending with "Your friends will get them if you don't send more. Now."
  • On Oct. 10, Castine emailed the girl, saying "hey, now [name withheld] can see your pix. I will so you better send. I can show his friends too. send today." The message had four attachments which were four photographs apparently taken from the girl's Facebook page which had the girl and a young male giving the impression they were a couple.
  • On Oct. 18, 2011, Castine was arrested in North Carolina and confessed.
  • While looking through Castine's more than 350,000 pictures of images that may be child pornography in this case after the forensic examination, detectives found a picture of another Helena girl in his Hotmail account. This girl was briefly interviewed and detailed the same scam that Castine used on the first victim. She was forensically interviewed in Helena, and repeated the same pattern of contact by Castine: harassment for naked photos of herself at age 15 in the same September-October 2011 time frame. The girl finally sent Castine a picture of herself naked and standing sideways.

There is no parole in the federal system. The "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that Castine will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, Castine can earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15 percent of the overall sentence.

The investigation was a cooperative effort among the following law enforcement agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI, the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, the Helena Police Department, and the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.

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.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678.