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Child Exploitation

Vermont man sentenced to 97 months in prison for possession of child pornography

BURLINGTON, Vt. — A Vermont man was sentenced Jan. 14 by U.S. District Court Judge William K. Sessions III to 97 months in jail, to be followed by 10 years of supervised release, for possessing child pornography. The court also ordered the man to complete sex offender treatment. The sentence is the result of an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Robert Gray, 37, of Northfield, Vt., had previously pleaded guilty to the charge Sept. 18, 2012. According to court records, a search warrant was executed at Gray's home in Northfield Feb. 24, 2012, at which time two computers used by Gray were seized. A forensic examination of the computers by HSI revealed that Gray had installed peer-to-peer file sharing programs on the computers and was using that software to download child pornography. He also was using the software to share child pornography with third parties over the Internet. Over 1,000 images and many videos containing child pornography were also found on the computers.

Gray was indicted by a federal grand jury March 1, 2012. He has been in federal custody since his arrest Feb. 24, 2012.

"Robert Gray has already demonstrated that he poses a threat to the most vulnerable members of our communities, our children," said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. Foucart oversees HSI throughout New England. "It's a horrifying fact that by trading child pornography on the Internet, offenders like Gray effectively sentence those depicted to a lifetime of victimization. Thanks to the hard work and determination of HSI special agents and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Vermont, that threat has now been removed. HSI and our law enforcement partners in Vermont will continue to aggressively target child predators who are involved in any form of perpetuating these heinous crimes."

HSI received considerable assistance from the Northfield Police Department with this investigation.

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.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy J. Creswell, District of Vermont, prosecuted this case on behalf of the U.S. government.