ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Robert Fenn, 27, of Herndon, Va., was indicted by a federal grand jury today accused of receiving and possessing child pornography. Fenn taught at Poplar Tree Elementary School in Chantilly, Va., prior to his arrest on related state charges in June.
The indictment follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation's (HSI) Washington, D.C., Child Exploitation Section and the Fairfax County Police Department.
Fenn was indicted on one count of receipt of child pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; and one count of possession of child pornography, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, if convicted.
According to the indictment and other court records, Fenn was allegedly identified through an international initiative named Operation Gondola, which originated with Italian law enforcement investigating a website offering access to child pornographic images and/or video files identified by the domain name "liberalmorality.com." The website was hosted in the United States and HSI special agents obtained Internet records showing each Internet account that accessed the website and the specific images each account accessed.
Court records allege that Fenn was among those who accessed this website and a subsequent search of his computer found numerous videos and images of children enduring various forms of sexual abuse. The indictment specifically alleges that Fenn received child pornography from March 3 through May 6 and was found to have possessed child pornography on June 12.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood and information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc.
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-DHS-2ICE 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-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
HSI is a founding member and the U.S. representative of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia J. Yass.
Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.