BISMARCK, N.D. - A Minot, N.D., man was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison on Friday following a February guilty plea to receiving materials showing minors being sexually exploited. The plea and sentence were announced by U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon, District of North Dakota. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NDBCI).
Christian R. Webb, 41, pleaded guilty May 20 before U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland. Judge Hovland sentenced Webb to serve 144 months in federal prison, to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release. Webb was also ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Crime Victim's Fund and to register as a sex offender.
From December 2009 until May 2010, Webb used the Internet to receive streaming web camera videos, which were being broadcast live and depicted minors being sexually exploited. Webb was discovered as a suspect during an investigation of an Australian man who was arrested on suspicion of molesting his biological children. Webb is a former information technology specialist employed by the Minot Public School system.
An investigation led by special agents from ICE HSI and officers with the NDBCI resulted in discovering numerous videos and images on Webb's computer, and other electronic storage devices. These recordings depicted what appeared to be the live-streaming abuse of prepubescent children. The discovery of these videos has provided numerous investigative leads to other law enforcement agencies resulting in the arrest to date of six additional individuals in Washington, Kansas, Ohio, Louisiana, and Wisconsin. More importantly, eight children have been rescued from physically and sexually abusive situations. Webb has cooperated with authorities during the operation.
"Each child depicted in child pornography images is an innocent victim of those who produce, possess, transport and share child pornography," said Mike Feinberg, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Bloomington, Minn. "ICE's Homeland Security Investigations continues to work closely with our law enforcement partners to identify child predators and bring them to justice."
"The investigation and prosecution of this case led directly to the rescue of eight children in the United States and Canada, and to their removal from the horribly abusive situations in which they were trapped," said U.S. Attorney Purdon. "I want to recognize the outstanding efforts of Assistant United States Attorney Gary Delorme and his law enforcement partners at Homeland Security Investigations and North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation in achieving these rescues."
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. 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.