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Child Exploitation

Seattle man pleads guilty to possession of child pornography

Defendant is former employee of Seattle Children's Theatre

SEATTLE - A former employee of the Seattle Children's Theater faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty today to possession of child pornography following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

William Edgar Hoke, 38, of Seattle, Wash., was arrested in April 2009 as part of an ongoing ICE investigation into individuals using password protected websites to post and trade child pornography. Hoke was formerly employed in the Information Technology Department at the Seattle Children's Theatre.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, the U. S. Postal Inspection Service received information in January 2007 regarding individuals in more than 30 countries who were producing, trading and possessing child pornography via the Internet. The individuals were using password protected bulletin boards to trade child pornography. In 2008, law enforcement seized the server that housed one of the bulletin boards and linked it to more than 545 registered members. Investigators determined that an email address associated with Hoke had joined the bulletin board in November 2005 and made 260 posts.

Following the seizure, a second bulletin board was set up. That server was seized in September 2008. An email address associated with Hoke had posted 60 times between April and September 2008. The posts were traced to Internet addresses at both Hoke's home and office. At the time of his arrest, agents seized computer equipment and storage devices. A forensic examination revealed they contained multiple images of child pornography.

"This case is a graphic reminder of the important responsibility ICE has to seek out those who use the Internet to sexually exploit innocent children," said Brad Bench, acting special agent in charge of for the ICE Office of Investigations in Seattle. "ICE will continue to dedicate its resources to identify and investigate individuals who seek to exploit children through the collection and distribution of these illicit materials."

ICE agents determined Hoke did not have unsupervised contact with children at Seattle Children's Theatre while employed there. His sentencing is set for Dec. 3, 2009, before U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly.