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Child Exploitation

Pennsylvania man charged with possessing child pornography

PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania man was charged Tuesday with possessing videos and images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The charges are the result of an operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Richard Boerckel, 68, was charged after HSI conducted an undercover investigation into the operators and subscribers of websites containing child pornography.

HSI agents learned in May 2008 that Boerckel used a credit card to gain access to a website which advertised child pornography. He accessed another website containing child pornography in November 2008, where he downloaded images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct. In February 2010, HSI agents searched Boerckel's home and seized computers and hard drives. A forensic analysis revealed that the devices contained 305 images and 60 videos of child pornography.

A review of the material by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) showed that at least 66 images and six videos were of identified victims. The images feature children from Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Florida, Georgia and Washington. Children from France, Germany and Ukraine are also included in the images.

Some children in the sexually explicit photographs are clearly prepubescent minors and minors under the age of 12.

"HSI will continue its relentless pursuit of online predators who are doing serious long-term harm to our nation's children," said John P. Kelleghan, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Philadelphia. "Possession of child pornography is not victimless crime."

If convicted, Boerckel could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a lifetime of supervised release upon completion of a prison sentence.

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-2-ICE. 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.