Hastings Man Pleads Guilty To Producing Child Pornography
MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court, a 24-year-old Hastings man pleaded guilty to producing child pornography. Mark Matthew Cortes pleaded guilty to one count of production of child pornography. Cortes, who was indicted on December 3, 2012, entered his plea before United States District Court Judge Ann D. Montgomery.
In his plea agreement, Cortes admitted that in November 2011, he knowingly persuaded a minor under the age of 12 to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing images of such conduct on his cellular telephone. Cortes also admitted that he transferred the images from his phone to his computer, and then distributed them to another person. In addition, Cortes admitted that he committed a sexual act with the victim during the production.
For his crime, Cortes faces a potential maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. Judge Montgomery will determine his sentence at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Minnesota Child Exploitation Task Force, which is sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David P. Steinkamp.
Production of child pornography is against the law. In addition to prosecuting these cases, the Justice Department is funding a study focused on the correlation between involvement in child pornography and hands-on sexual abuse of children. A 2008 study (The Butner Study) published in the Journal of Family Violence found that up to 80 percent of federal inmates incarcerated for possession, receipt, or distribution of child pornography also admitted to hands-on sexual abuse of children, ranging from touching to rape.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (“PSC”), 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 U.S. Attorney offices and the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children and identify and rescue victims. For more information about PSC, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/. For more information about internet safety education, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/resources.html and click on the tab “resources.”