News and Press Releases

Jacksonville Child Sex Offender Pleads Guilty To Producing Child Pornography, Faces A Mandatory Sentence Of Life Imprisonment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 17, 2014

Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Christopher Richard Cloonan (44, Jacksonville) yesterday pleaded guilty to using a minor child to produce images depicting child pornography. Cloonan is a registered child sex offender.  He was convicted of two counts of attempted sexual battery on a child less than 12 years old on November 18, 1991, in Charlotte County. Because of his prior child sex convictions, Cloonan faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. Cloonan was arrested on March 12, 2014 at his residence in Jacksonville, and he has been in custody since that time.

According to court documents, in early March 2014, an undercover officer (“UC”) with the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department posted an advertisement on a website known to be frequented by individuals who have a sexual interest in children and incest. On March 8, 2014, Cloonan, using a particular screen name, responded to the ad and expressed interest and experience in sexual activity with a minor child.

On March 11, 2014, Cloonan sent the UC an email with two images attached. Both images were produced by Cloonan and depicted an infant engaged in sexually explicit conduct. A few minutes later, Cloonan sent the UC another email with two more explicit images of the same infant.

On March 12, 2014, the FBI’s investigation revealed that the Internet Protocol (IP) address used to send the pornographic images belonged to Cloonen.  He was also identified as the subscriber of the Internet account. Also, on the same date, Cloonan and the UC continued their online communications. In several different emails, Cloonan discussed his fantasies about sexual activities with children. At 5:33 p.m., Cloonan typed “Society is coming down so hard on ‘child molesters’ etc now, we are in danger everyday as lovers of children are not seen as different from those who hurt and kill them.” 

A search warrant was issued for Cloonan’s residence on March 12, 2014. That evening, FBI agents and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) personnel executed the warrant, at which time Cloonan came out of the residence holding a smartphone. He was placed under arrest. A preliminary analysis of Cloonan’s smartphone revealed that it contained at least 85 images of child pornography, mostly depicting infants and toddlers. Two of the pornographic images were of the infant child that Cloonan had previously taken and sent to the UC by email. Additional images depicting adults performing sexual acts on infants were also found on the phone. 

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Jacksonville and Washington, D.C., the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.

It is another case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, 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, Project Safe Childhood 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 Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc.

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