Belleville Man Will Serve More than Twelve Years in Prison for Receipt and Possession of Child Pornography
Garold Lee Semelka, 62, of Belleville, IL, was sentenced in federal district court on October 17, 2012, to 151 months (twelve years and seven months) in prison for Receipt of Child Pornography (Count 1) and 120 months in prison for Possession of Child Pornography (Count 2), to run concurrently, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. There is no parole in the federal system. Semelka was also ordered to serve a 10 year term of supervised release on each count, also to run concurrently; fined $200 on each count, for a total fine of $400, and ordered to pay a $200 special assessment. Semelka pled guilty to the two-count Information on June 28, 2012, and has been detained (held without bond) since that date.
“As you are probably aware, the law requires that we prove that these images are of actual children, not computer-generated fiction. As such, I am happy to see that a person who victimized real children will no longer be able to do so,” said United States Attorney Wigginton.
The investigation of Semelka began on June 13, 2011, when an officer participating in an Internet undercover operation identified a computer in Illinois offering child pornography for downloading. The officer downloaded five (5) image and/or video files depicting child pornography from that computer. During the investigation, the officer learned that the computer from which he downloaded the video files of child pornography was located at Semelka’s residence in Belleville, Illinois. Officers obtained a search warrant, executed it, and found a computer, which was seized.
Semelka admitted possession of the image and/or video files found on the computer, stating that the officers would find between 20 and 30 files depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit behavior on the computer. Semelka also admitted viewing child pornography that involved children as young as toddlers, and that he probably still had 30 or more of these types of files on his computer. Semelka stated that he was the sole user of the computer. Semelka said that he downloaded and viewed the image and video files depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit behavior, via the internet, using a file sharing program. Semelka stated that he believes that he has been downloading and viewing child pornography for eight (8) to ten (10) years, and that he had downloaded child pornography within one (1) to two (2) weeks prior to this interview.
A forensic review of the computer revealed over 600 image and/or video files of minors engaging in sexually explicit behavior, including the five (5) image and/or video files that were downloaded by the officer working in an undercover capacity on June 13, 2011. It also revealed that, on April 9, 2011, Semelka downloaded, via the internet, at least three (3) video files depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit behavior, including the video file charged in Count 1 of the Information.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 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. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”
The case was investigated by the High Tech Crimes Bureau of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. The case was assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Angela Scott.