Lee County Man Nets 17 1/2 Years in Federal Prison for Downloading Child Pornography on Limewire
Montgomery, Alabama - Former Salem resident, Kenneth Allen Ballard, age 26, was sentenced to 210 months in federal prison for knowingly distributing and receiving child pornography over the internet, U.S. Attorney Leura G. Canary announced today. In handing down the sentence, the Honorable W. Keith Watkins, United States District Judge for the Middle District of Alabama, found that Ballard possessed images of young children being sexually abused and traded those images online with other internet users, most notably through the peerto- peer software program, Limewire.
Ballard first came to the attention of law enforcement on January 4, 2008, when an FBI agent in Maryland spotted his IP address sharing child pornography files over Limewire and successfully downloaded ten illicit images from his computer. Three days later, an FBI task force officer in Texas also found Ballard sharing child pornography on Limewire and was able to download nine more images from him. A federal search warrant was obtained and executed in September 2008, and FBI computer forensic examiners found more than 200 images and several movies of child pornography on Ballard’s computer. Approximately 75 percent of the files depicted children under the age of twelve. The FBI also found over 500 images of child erotica, numerous child pornography search terms in Ballard’s Limewire history, and chat logs showing Ballard trading child pornography online using the screen names "kenlowes736" and "watchoutlittleholesitsbig." Ballard denied any involvement in the crimes and ultimately took his case to trial. After four days, a federal jury sitting in Opelika, Alabama, convicted Ballard of knowingly distributing, receiving, and possessing the images and videos charged.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has been able to identify many of the children depicted in the illicit images as known child victims from other states and countries. At sentencing, Judge Watkins considered statements from two of the child victims and their parents. According to one such victim, now 19, the pain she lives with is constant: “Because the most intimate parts of me are being viewed by thousands of strangers and traded around, I feel out of control. They are trading my trauma around like treats at a party, but it is far from innocent. It feels like I am being raped by each and every one of them.” The mother of another victim urged the court to consider “the damage done by this heartless crime to my daughter and others like her (including those children who still wait for someone to rescue them from their exploitation, and have no one here today to speak for them) and impose a sentence that takes into account the full impact of the crime on the victims.”
As part of his sentence and upon his release from prison, Ballard will spend the rest of his life on supervised release, with tight restrictions on his ability to use a computer or to have contact with anyone under the age of 18. Ballard will also be required to register as a convicted sex offender. A separate restitution hearing will held on a date yet to be determined by the Court.
“Child pornography is one of the most disturbing crimes in this country. Unlike so many of the children who have been abused - sexually, physically, verbally, or emotionally - these children cannot possibly hope to put their abuse behind them. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama remains committed to seeking justice for the victims of child pornography and will continue to make the prosecution of these cases a priority,” stated Leura G. Canary, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation led the investigation of this case, with assistance from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Plano, Texas Police Department. Computer forensics were provided by the Computer Analysis Response Team stationed at the FBI’s Information Technology Center in Pocatello, Idaho. Assistant United States Attorneys Nathan D. Stump and Brandon K. Essig prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In May 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice launched Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States 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.
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