News and Press Releases

News and Press Releases

Rochester man pleads guilty to distributing child pornography

July 18, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court, a 27-year-old Rochester man pleaded guilty to distributing a video containing child pornography. Nathan Paul Severson specifically pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of child pornography. Severson, who was indicted on May 15, 2012, entered his plea before United States District Court Judge David S. Doty.

In his plea agreement, Severson admitted that on January 13, 2011, he distributed via his computer a visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. In addition, Severson admitted that at that time, he possessed approximately 11,600 images and 430 videos of child pornography, some of which portrayed sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence. Officials found the images and videos on several computers and hard drives during the execution of a search warrant at Severson’s Rochester residence.

For his crime, Severson faces a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, with a mandatory minimum penalty of five years. Because the federal system does not have parole, Severson will serve virtually his entire prison sentence behind bars. Judge Doty will determine his exact sentence at a future hearing, not yet scheduled.

This case is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura M. Provinzino.

Distribution of child pornography is against the law. In addition to prosecuting these cases, the Justice Department is presently funding a study focused on the correlation between involvement in child pornography and hands-on sexual abuse of children. A 2008 study (The Butner Study) published in the Journal of Family Violence found that up to 80 percent of federal inmates incarcerated for possession, receipt, or distribution of child pornography also admitted to hands-on sexual abuse of children, ranging from touching to rape.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), 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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children and identify and rescue victims. For more information about PSC, please visit For more information about internet safety education, please visit and click on the tab “resources.”

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