west virginia man sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for traveling to alaska with intent to engage in sexual act with a nine-year-Old girl
Anchorage, Alaska – United States Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that a West Virginia man was sentenced in federal court in Anchorage, to 30 years in federal prison for interstate travel with intent to engage in a sexual act with a child under the age of twelve.
On December 2, 2011, Thomas Daniel Niswander, 65, a resident of Princeton, West Virginia was sentenced by Senior United States District Judge H. Russel Holland.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle French, Niswander traveled on May 5, 2011, from his residence in Princeton, West Virginia, to Anchorage, Alaska, with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a nine year-old girl. A Homeland Security Investigations special agent came into contact with Niswander in an Internet chat room where Niswander was soliciting information about traveling to Cambodia for a “kiddie hunt”. Niswander stated that the trip “was gonna cost me about 2,500 and then whatever the girls cost - was looking to get at least one virgin and that [is] 500-600 bucks . . . but 7 or 8 year virgin gonna cost ya”. Niswander also told the agent that he had sexually molested children, including traveling to Washington, D.C. to sexually molest a six year-old daughter of a “crack whore”.
After a few weeks of communications with the agent, Niswander arranged to fly to Alaska for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts with what he thought would be a nine-year-old girl.
Niswander's contact with an undercover agent was video taped and audio recorded for approximately 40 minutes after Niswander was picked up at Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage. Niswander provided additional details of previously sexually abusing children which he subsequently claimed at sentencing were merely fantasy. Niswander denies that he ever sexually abused a child.
After Niswander's arrest, investigators discovered children's gifts, a vibrator and flavored sexual lubricant in Niswander's luggage. In addition, Niswander had purchased and brought with him a video camera. Niswander stated during the investigation that he had studied and practiced techniques that involve blurring recorded faces to prevent victim and participant identification.
Niswander's sexual interest in very young children was further evidenced by a collection of prepubescent child pornography discovered in a laptop computer he brought to Alaska, as well as on electronic media seized from his residence in West Virginia. Mr. French, who prosecuted the case, noted that Niswander's Blackberry cellular telephone also contained numerous pictures surreptitiously taken of prepubescent girls at a Wal-Mart store, including children under the age of seven years-old.
In sentencing Niswander to the statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years, Judge Holland identified Niswander’s crimes as “among the most serious and heinous”.
“Child sex tourism is commonly associated with foreigners traveling to impoverished and developing countries,” noted Mr. French. “However, child sex tourism is also a growing problem within the United States. As demonstrated by Niswander and other cases in the District of Alaska, engaging in interstate child-sex tourism is as easy as going on the Internet, arranging to meet with a child via a trafficker (such as the child's parent or a pimp), and booking a flight. As a result, Congress enacted severe sentences for interstate child-sex tourists in the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.” United States Attorney Karen Loeffler noted: “The thirty-year mandatory minimum sends a clear message and draws a bright line - if you engage in interstate child-sex tourism, you will spend most or the rest of your life excised from civil society and incarcerated in federal prison.”
Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case with the assistance of the Anchorage Police Department and Alaska State Troopers. Federal prosecutors and Homeland Security agents located in West Virginia also assisted the investigation.
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 United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood combines federal, state and local resources to better identify, 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/.