James Freeman of Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., was sentenced to life in prison today for his activity in a global child pornography trafficking enterprise, Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Thomas F. Kirwin and FBI Executive Assistant Director Thomas J. Harrington announced.
Freeman, a registered sex offender, was found guilty following a six-day trial in January 2009 of six counts relating to his criminal activities as a member of the child exploitation enterprise. The charges alleged in these counts included engaging in a child exploitation enterprise; conspiracy to advertise, transport, ship, receive and possess child pornography; advertising, transporting and receiving child pornography and obstruction of justice.
Five of the defendants previously sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Lacey A. Collier: Daniel Castleman of Lubbock, Texas; Gary Lakey of Anderson, Ind.; Marvin Lambert of Indianapolis; Neville McGarity of Medina, Texas; and Ronald White of Burlington, N.C., also received life sentences. Five additional U.S. defendants also indicted in the case were sentenced on March 10, 2009.
According to evidence introduced at trial, the defendants were members of a highly sophisticated international network. The group was a well-organized criminal enterprise whose purpose was to proliferate child sex abuse images to its membership during a two-year period.
The defendants were found guilty of participating in an illegal organization that used Internet newsgroups - large file-sharing networks where text, software, pictures and videos can be traded and shared - to traffic in illegal images and videos depicting prepubescent children, including toddlers, engaged in various sexual and sadistic acts. Specifically, an Australian constable who infiltrated the group in August 2006 testified at trial about how group members employed a complex system of pseudonyms, screening tests for new members and sophisticated encryption methods to avoid detection. He also testified that the group traded more than 400,000 images and 1,000 videos of child sexual abuse before it was dismantled by law enforcement.
This case was 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 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 http://www.projectsafechildhood.gov./
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Goldberg of the Northern District of Florida and Trial Attorney LisaMarie Freitas of CEOS. The case is being investigated by the Innocent Images Unit of the FBI and the Queensland, Australia, Police Service, with the assistance of the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) Child Pornography Unit in Germany and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre in the United Kingdom.