BOSTON - An Iowa man pleaded guilty to federal child exploitation charges moments before his jury trial began this morning.
Joshua Dunfee, 32, of Oxford Junction, Iowa, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Patti B. Saris to the coercion and enticement of a child to engage in illicit sexual activity and the sexual exploitation of a child to produce child pornography. Sentencing is scheduled for June 27, 2014. Dunfee faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum of 40 years in prison, a maximum of a lifetime of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Dunfee has been in custody since his arrest in November 2011.
Dunfee posed as “John” from “Hunt Photography” on Facebook and communicated with a Massachusetts mother who was seeking employment as a model and believed Hunt Photography to be a legitimate business. In October 2011, Dunfee contacted the mother and told her that Hunt Photography had a client willing to pay $20,000 for a mother-daughter bikini modeling contract. Dunfee told the mother that in order to apply she would need to audition her daughter for him immediately and persuaded the mother to take her minor daughter out of school.
At Dunfee’s further direction, the mother placed her daughter on webcam for him to view for a 48-minute video call. During this time, Dunfee was able to see and hear the mother and her minor daughter, but they were unable to see or hear him. During the “audition,” Dunfee directed via instant messenger that the minor be posed for him—first in a bra and underwear and then completely naked. Dunfee knew that the girl was a minor.
On Nov. 3, 2011, federal agents executed a federal search warrant at Dunfee’s residence, where law enforcement had traced the illicit conduct via IP address records. A forensic examination of Dunfee’s computers (obtained during the execution of the search warrant) revealed various activities consistent with the use of certain platforms to communicate while posing as Hunt Photography, including Facebook, Skype, and Windows Live Messenger Chat.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, and Shelly Binkowski, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service made the announcement today. The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Jones County (IA) Sheriff's Office, the Massachusetts State Police, the Attleboro Police Department, and the Department of Justice’s High Technology Investigative Unit. Substantial assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Iowa. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stacy Dawson Belf and David Tobin of Ortiz's Major Crimes Unit and Trial Attorney Herbrina Sanders of the Department of Justice Child Exploitation & Obscenity Section.
This case is 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 online 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, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.