Granite City Man Sentenced for Production of Child Pornography
Jason E. Starko, 36, Granite City, IL, was sentenced on January 18, 2013, to a total of 360 months in prison on a two-count indictment charging him, in both counts, with Production of Child Pornography, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today.
Starko’s term of imprisonment consists of 360 months on each count, to run concurrently. Starko was also ordered to serve a 20 year term of supervised release on both counts, also to run concurrently, fined $1250, and ordered to pay a $200 special assessment. Starko pled guilty to the offenses on August 8, 2012, and had been detained (held without bond) since his arraignment on December 23, 2011.
“The case was brought with the cooperation of the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office. Our office, along with the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office, is very happy with the result. The cooperative effort between the two offices, which resulted in this prosecution and sentence, has removed Mr. Starko from our district for a very long time and protected our children from a sexual predator.” said United States Attorney Wigginton.
Horrific facts revealed in the court proceedings were that the violations occurred between August 7 and August 12, 2011, when Starko resided with a friend, L.R., and her two minor children, in Granite City. On August 12, 2011, L.R. reported to the Granite City Police Department that her two minor children, ages 5 and 7, had disclosed sexual abuse by Starko. For that, Starko is currently charged in Madison County with two counts of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse. Of course, a charge is not proof of guilt. Starko is presumed innocent of the charge until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The federal charges came about when, after Starko was arrested, an individual found a digital camera that Starko had left in his/her house. This individual viewed the contents of the camera and saw sexually explicit videos involving minors. This individual turned over the digital camera to the Granite City Police Department. During a forensic review of the digital camera, officers recovered two pornographic videos involving L.R.’s 5 year old minor child. These videos depict the minor child’s nude genital area. In one of the videos, Starko’s hand is seen touching the minor child’s genitals in order to get a closer view of the child’s nude genital area. Both videos appeared to have been taken with a hidden camera.
Evidence introduced at the sentencing hearing showed that inappropriate pictures were taken of the two girls while at a lighted water fountain in St. Louis, Missouri. Numerous photographs were of the children in sexually provocative poses.
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 Granite City Police Department. The case was assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Angela Scott.