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Child Exploitation

Southern California man sentenced to 10 years in prison for soliciting sex from a child on the Internet

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Los Angeles man was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison following his conviction for soliciting a child for sex through the Internet, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

The investigation was conducted by Corpus Christi Police Department's Internet Crimes against Children Task Force (CCPD-ICAC) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Jeffrey Todd Howard, 34, was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey. Howard will also be required to serve 10 years of supervised release following completion of the prison term, during which time he will be required to comply with numerous conditions of release designed to limit his contact with children. Howard was convicted after a two-day bench trial before Judge Rainey April 4.

During trial, the government called several witnesses detailing the offense. The court learned that in February 2012 a concerned citizen reported disturbing online communications with a person she had met online. During those communications, Howard offered to pay the individual to obtain children so he could have sex with them. An undercover detective with CCPD-ICAC instructed the individual to provide Howard with an email of her "friend" who might be able to help him obtain children for sex.

Howard emailed the undercover officer and began a month-long series of communications ending in late March 2012. During the course of those communications, Howard discussed his desire to engage in criminal sexual acts with the officer's 11 and 14-year-old daughters. Howard discussed how the officer should prepare her daughters in advance of his sexual encounter with them. Howard also sent pictures of his genitals to be shown to the daughters to increase their sexual interest in him.

HSI agents assisted in the investigation and discovered Howard had expressed an interest in sexually assaulting children with other women in the past. After his arrest in Los Angeles in November 2012, his phone was examined and determined to contain more than 1,300 images which indicated a sexual interest in children.

Howard admitted during the trail that he had been sexually interested in children for two years but denied any intention to act on those desires. Howard will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

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 1-866-347-2423 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 & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.