Dungeon discussed in online chats discovered in defendant’s basement
BOSTON – Geoffrey Portway, 40, a citizen of the United Kingdom and most recently of Worcester, Mass., was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Worcester for solicitation to commit a crime of violence (kidnaping of a child), distribution and possession of child pornography.
In accordance with a plea agreement signed in May 2013, Portway was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Hillman to 320 months in prison and a lifetime of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution to each of the five victims identified. Additionally, Portway faces deportation to the United Kingdom following release from prison.
“The facts of this case are disturbing and alarming. I applaud our law enforcement partners for aggressively tracking down the defendant and others that share his perverse desires,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “The sentence Mr. Portway received today sends the message that the Department of Justice will ardently pursue those who exploit children, the most vulnerable, innocent and impressionable population of our country. Thanks to the dedication and coordination of local, state and federal law enforcement, there is not a place in the United States, or on the Internet, where these predators can hide.”
“Mr. Portway made his intentions explicitly clear in online conversations with depraved likeminded individuals. The sophisticated child torture chamber he built in his basement also clearly demonstrated his strong desires to ensnare a child victim,” said Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston. “There is no doubt in my mind that given the right set of circumstances, Mr. Portway would have acted on those perverse urges. Fortunately, as a result of today’s significant sentence, he will never have an opportunity to pursue his sordid desires. I commend the exceptional work of the HSI special agents, federal prosecutors and the many other law enforcement partners who contributed to Operation Holitna’s overwhelming success in rescuing some 167 child victims and the arrest of 54 predators worldwide. ”
Portway engaged in numerous chats with many individuals about a mutual interest in abducting, raping, murdering, and eating children. Many of these conversations were accompanied by the trading of child pornography and other images of children relevant to these interests. These chats also included images of different real children, accompanied by discussions of desires to sexual abuse and murder and cannibalize those children know to those chatting.
Portway solicited several people for their help in abducting a child, predominately from Michael Arnett of Kansas. At least as early as 2010, Portway utilized Skype and other programs to communicate with Arnett, trading child pornography and images of injured, mutilated and deceased children while chatting about the sexual abuse, rape, abduction, murder, and cannibalism of children. Over months, Portway repeatedly solicited Arnett to kidnap a child for him, with the intent that Portway would ultimately rape, kill and eat that child. These solicitations for help abducting a child included discussing real children, by name and photo, which Arnett claimed to know and have access. In the chats, Portway and Arnett discuss different ways to kidnap children and the age range that Portway prefers. During the time that Portway was soliciting Arnett, he had been told that Arnett had helped others with such requests before and that he had experience with the abduction and sexual abuse of children. Arnett has since pleaded guilty in Kansas to the sexual exploitation of a child for the purposes of producing child pornography.
On July 27, 2012, federal agents along with state and local police, executed a federal search warrant at Portway’s Worcester home. Various computers and digital devices containing Portway’s child pornography collection were seized, in addition to the computer he used to trade child photography and attempt to plan the abduction of a child.
During the execution of the search warrant, agents also discovered a locked door in the basement of the residence. Inside the door was a sally port that led to a second door (with a keyed lock). Inside the second door was a dungeon, which was lined with acoustical sound-deadening material and contained a chair, television, and what appeared to be cable access to the internet. Also located in this room were a child-sized homemade coffin (with large speakers covered in wire mesh at one end) with exterior locking devices, a steel cage (approximately 3' wide, 2' high and 4' long) with multiple locking devices, and a steel table top (with steel rings at 6 points, presumably for restraints). Outside these rooms were a cabinet freezer, an upright freezer, disposable scalpels, butchering kits, and castration tools. This dungeon was described in detail by Portway in recovered chats as a place he intended to use to keep kidnaped children while he sexually abused them and as a place to eventually murder and cannibalize the children.
A forensic examination of the computers uncovered evidence of over 4,500 trades of child pornography between Portway and others. Many of these trades involved Portway distributing child pornography to others based on their stated specific preferences, including images and videos appearing to depict dead children and the cannibalism of children.
U.S. Attorney Ortiz; SAC Foucart; Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early; Colonel Timothy Alben, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; and Chief Gary J. Gemme of the Worcester Police Department made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacy Dawson Belf of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit. The U.S. Attorney’s Office wishes to thank the Massachusetts State Police forensics troopers and detectives assigned to the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office as well as the detectives from the Worcester Police Department for their key assistance during the investigation.
This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In 2006, the Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, 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 identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/