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Child Exploitation
03/27/2019

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Rigby man pleads guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor child

POCATELLO – Joseph Lavern Harris, 31, of Rigby, Idaho, pleaded guilty yesterday to sexual exploitation of a minor child, U.S. Attorney Bart M. Davis and Special Agent in Charge Brad Bench of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Seattle Field Office announced. Harris was indicted by a federal grand jury in Pocatello on March 27, 2018.

According to court records, on February 26, 2018, state investigators responded to allegations of child abuse at a residence in Jefferson County, Idaho, where Harris resided. A subsequent investigation discovered that Harris had produced child pornography using a minor child. Investigators obtained a search warrant for Harris’s electronic devices and discovered images of the sexual abuse taken on Harris’s phone. In court, Harris admitted that he used, persuaded, and coerced the minor child to take part in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depictions of such conduct.

“We must all come together to stop those among us who prey on our children,” said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. “I’m very proud of all of those involved in bringing this dangerous man to justice. Criminals like these must not be allowed to harm our most vulnerable population. Our strong partnership with other law enforcement professionals, community leaders and family members is vital to eradicating these criminals from our neighborhoods.”

The charge of sexual exploitation of a minor is punishable by 15 to 30 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and a term of supervised release of 5 years to life.

Sentencing is set for June 18, 2019, before U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill at the federal courthouse in Pocatello.

The case was investigated by ICE’s HSI Idaho Falls location and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.

HSI is a worldwide leader in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children. For more information about our Child Exploitation Investigations Unit, please visit https://www.ice.gov/predator.

For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc.

For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/28/2019