WASHINGTON – Two defendants have been sentenced to prison in connection with a series of superseding indictments charging 26 individuals for their participation in an online child pornography conspiracy, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Timothy M. Morrison of the Southern District of Indiana.
Thomas Attebury, 40, of Bakersfield, Calif., was sentenced yesterday to 38 years in prison for his role in the child pornography conspiracy and David Williams, 46, of Selinsgrove, Pa., was sentenced yesterday to 25 years in prison for his participation in the conspiracy. Each defendant also was sentenced to lifetime supervised release following their respective prison terms. Both defendants pleaded guilty on previous dates to one count of conspiracy to advertise child pornography, one count of conspiracy to distribute child pornography, two counts of advertising child pornography and two counts of distributing child pornography before U.S. District Court Judge William T. Lawrence in Indianapolis.
According to his plea agreement, Attebury also admitted to the sexual abuse of three minors, one of whom was under the age of 12. Attebury also admitted to abusive sexual contact with a fourth child, who was also under the age of 12. Williams was convicted in 1996 of two counts of indecent assault and two counts of corruption of minors in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for sexually abusing a five-year-old child.
The charges against Williams, Attebury and 24 co-defendants are a result of "Operation Nest Egg," an ongoing and joint investigation led by the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Operation Nest Egg, launched in February 2008, targeted 26 defendants charged in the Southern District of Indiana, as well as approximately 500 additional individuals located throughout the world for their involvement in an online group dedicated to trading images of child pornography.
According to court documents filed in the Southern District of Indiana, the 26 co-conspirators participated in a sophisticated, password-protected Internet bulletin board group, which existed to allow members to meet like-minded individuals with a sexualized interest in children, to discuss that interest and to trade images of child pornography. The defendants are charged with conspiring to advertise and distribute child pornography, along with substantive counts of advertising and distributing child pornography. Twenty-two of the 26 defendants charged in the conspiracy have been arrested. Twenty of the 22 individuals arrested have been convicted or have pleaded guilty. Thirteen of the 20 individuals who have pleaded guilty for their role in the conspiracy have been sentenced to prison on previous dates.
Four of the 26 individuals charged in the conspiracy remain at large and are known only by their online identities. Efforts to identify and apprehend these four individuals continue.
To date, as a result of Operation Nest Egg, more than 80 searches have been conducted in the United States. In total, more than 50 individuals have been arrested and 39 individuals have been convicted. The investigation is ongoing. Numerous members of the Internet-based bulletin board were found to have been personally sexually abusing children, for example Attebury and Williams. Additionally, lead administrator Delwyn Savigar of the United Kingdom, was identified and arrested in partnership with the U.K.’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, for his involvement in the conspiracy. After his initial arrest, Savigar was identified through DNA testing as the perpetrator of a previously unsolved sexual assault against a minor female in Great Britain, to which he pleaded guilty. Following this discovery, Savigar was linked to additional incidents of sexual assaults. Ultimately, he pleaded guilty to either abusing or attempting to abuse three minors from 1999 to 2002. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison in the United Kingdom. To date, 16 child victims have been identified through Operation Nest Egg, including the four victims identified during the investigation of Thomas Attebury.
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 www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D. DeBrota of the Southern District of Indiana and CEOS Trial Attorney Alecia Riewerts Wolak. The investigation was conducted jointly by CEOS’ High Technology Investigative Unit, USPIS and ICE, with assistance provided by the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Taskforce, Indiana State Police, and numerous local and international law enforcement agencies across the United States and Europe.