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Child Exploitation

North Texas man sentenced to more than 5 years in federal prison on child pornography conviction

Defendant posed as young woman on a social-media website to trick young males to send him sexually explicit photos of themselves

DALLAS — A north Texas man was sentenced Wednesday to five years and four months in federal prison following his guilty plea in January 2012 to one count of receiving child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

Jerry Wayne Valek, 35, of Ennis, Texas, has been in custody since his Jan. 13, 2011 arrest on a related charge.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Decatur (Texas) Police Department.

According to documents filed in the case, Valek created a false account on a social-media website identifying himself to be "Jessica Villerra," an attractive female living in Dallas. Through the website, Valek befriended minor boys and began communicating with them via e-mail. Posing as the interested woman, Valek exchanged cell phone numbers via e-mail and initiated "sexting" conversations. He encouraged the minors to trade pornographic pictures of themselves and send them to Valek.

One minor Valek communicated with was a 16-year-old male, "Minor A." When interviewed by law enforcement, "Minor A" stated that soon after becoming friends with "Villera" on the site, "Villerra" requested that he produce and send nude images of himself to her. "Minor A" stated that although he never actually spoke to "Villerra," he exchanged text and e-mail messages with her and did as requested, taking photographs of himself posing nude and sending them to "Villerra."

During a search of Valek's Ennis, Texas, residence, law enforcement found a cellular phone using a number that several witnesses stated belonged to "Villerra." That phone also contained nude images of "Villerra," and both adult and minor males. A computer was also seized at the residence and through forensic examination, it was determined to be used as part of the offense.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason D. Schall was in charge of the prosecution.

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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.