SAN ANTONIO - A former Emergency Medical Service (EMT) paramedic and part time photographer pleaded guilty on Thursday to possessing child pornography. The plea was announced by acting U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy, Western District of Texas. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigated this case with the assistance of Schertz Police Department.
Stephen Henry, 28, of Schertz, Texas, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Pam Mathy to 11 counts of possessing child pornography, one count of producing obscene visual representations of children, and one count of possessing obscene visual representations of children. Judge Mathy set a sentencing hearing for April 1 before U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia.
"All children have an absolute right to grow up free from the fear of being sexually exploited," said Jerry Robinette, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in San Antonio. "ICE will relentlessly pursue anyone who physically abuses or sexually exploits our most vulnerable asset, our children."
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas returned an indictment July 15 and two days later Henry was arrested without incident.
On April 29, ICE agents executed a federal search warrant at Henry's home. This is where agents seized his laptop and numerous CDs. A forensic analysis of the seized items revealed Henry possessed 77 videos and 1,539 images of sexually explicit child pornography. Further analysis revealed Henry "Photoshop'd" innocent images of young girls, and created child pornography images by including adults in compromising positions involving children.
This investigation is 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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,000 individuals.
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 http://www.cybertipline.com.
This case is being prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys' offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Braun, Western District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.