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Indiana resident pleads guilty to child exploitation charges and agrees to serve 30 years in federal prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 31, 2012

DENVER – Steven Raines, age 35, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, pled guilty recently before U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson to attempted coercion and enticement (to engage in unlawful sexual activity with a minor child) and distribution of child pornography, United States Attorney John Walsh and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Kumar Kibble announced. As part of Raines’ guilty plea, he agreed to a stipulated sentence of 30 years in federal prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release. He will also have to register as a sex offender. The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Jackson on January 22, 2013. Raines remains in custody, being held without bond, while his case progresses.

Raines was first charged by Criminal Complaint on July 2, 2012. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on July 9, 2012. He pled guilty on October 24, 2012.

According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, on April 1, 2012, an HSI Special Agent based in Glenwood Springs, Colorado was chatting online in an undercover capacity. Specifically, the agent’s undercover persona was that of a single mother of two daughters under the age of 16. The agent entered a chat room, accessible by anyone, whose topic focused on sex with children. While in the chat room the undercover agent engaged in a chat with an individual who expressed interest in having sex with the undercover and the two minor children. The individual went on to say that he had been searching for 20 years for someone like the undercover who would provide sexual access to her children, and that he discovered that he was a “pedo” when he was 15. He also said that he had been previously accused of molesting a child to whom he had access, and that he previously attempted to meet someone like the undercover agent in person, but the person failed to show up.

The individual continued chatting and emailing the undercover using his smart phone for the next three months. He told the undercover that he did not have a computer. Eventually investigators identified the individual as 35-year old Steven Raines, who lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana. As the chats between Raines and the undercover progressed, Raines began to send pictures, some of which depicted child pornography. Eventually Raines and the undercover agent began to make plans for him to travel to Colorado in order to have sex with, or rape, the two young girls. The defendant’s main interest, however, was one of the children who was under the age of 6. He discussed wanting to father a child with the undercover agent. Raines also discussed other children he knew from church or his neighborhood, in whom he had a sexual interest and with whom he attempted to have some sort of contact.

As the travel plans were finalized, Raines stated that he was going to bring his child pornography collection with him to Colorado in order to “teach” the girls and stated an interest in producing child pornography with the undercover agent and the two minor girls. The content of the child pornography he was bringing featured mostly prepubescent females engaged in sexual acts and included sadistic or masochistic conduct. During the communications between Raines and the agent he made statements about both of his children, and about sexually molesting a minor child to whom he had access, and that he produced images of child pornography of his sexual abuse of that child.

The defendant began his travel to Colorado on June 29, 2012. He sent texts to the undercover agent during the duration of the trip. On June 30, 2012, near Topeka, Kansas, the defendant’s van broke down. He rented a vehicle to complete his journey. On June 30, 2012, the defendant arrived at a residence in Garfield County, Colorado, which was the address provided to him by the undercover agent. After his arrival he was taken into custody. Agents and officers seized the defendant’s cell phone, which has the capacity to take photographs and video, contained approximately 130 images and 84 videos of child pornography. During a lawful search of Raines’ home, agents and officers found various discs containing child pornography. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children identified 23 known series of child pornography featuring real child victims among the images the defendant had on his cell phone and in his email.

“As this case demonstrates, sexual exploitation of children is a serious threat that we must take seriously, and prosecute with determination,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “The hard work of Homeland Security Investigations and our office in this case prevented terrible abuse to children, and took a sexual predator off the streets.”

“The determination of this predator to sexually assault children demonstrates the importance of investigating and prosecuting these child sexual exploitation cases,” said Kumar Kibble, special agent in charge of HSI Denver. “By working together with our law enforcement partners, Homeland Security Investigations helps protect children, while also ensuring that their predators are identified and prosecuted.” Kibble oversees a four-state area, including: Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

This case was investigated by HSI and the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office. The HSI Resident Agent in Charge’s Office in Indianapolis, and the United States Attorney’s Office in Fort Wayne, Indiana, also played an important role in this investigation and prosecution.

Raines was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle Heldmyer and ICE Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lillian Alves.

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 the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to 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."

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