GREENEVILLE, Tenn. - Jeff Francis Tillotson, 26, of Kingsport, Tenn., was sentenced on May 21 to 204 months in prison in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, by the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation.
Tillotson was ordered to complete sex offender treatment during imprisonment, pay $300 in special assessments, and remain under federal supervised release for the remainder of his life. The sentence was the result of a conviction by trial on Dec. 12, 2008, by a federal grand jury, charging him with distributing, advertising and possessing child pornography. Tillotson has remained in federal custody since his arrest after the indictment on May 6, 2008.
"All children have an absolute right to grow up free from the fear of sexual exploitation," said Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in New Orleans. "ICE relentlessly pursues predators who sexually abuse children, whether that abuse is physical in nature or if it is accomplished by exploiting their images. The sentencing of Tillotson sends a strong message that ICE will not tolerate such despicable crimes. Our agents will continue to police cyberspace and target those who travel abroad to exploit one of the most vulnerable segments of our society - our children."
This case was part of Operation Predator, which is 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 almost 12,800 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.
This case was also brought 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 the U. S. Attorneys' offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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 www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Assisting in the investigation were the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations; the Knoxville Police Department Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force; the Kingsport Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Robert Reeves and Helen Smith represented the United States at trial.