Shaun Matthew Hopkins Sentenced in U.S. District Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on February 19, 2010, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, SHAUN MATTHEW HOPKINS, a 30-year-old resident of Billings, appeared for sentencing. HOPKINS was sentenced to a term of:
- Prison: 72 months
- Special Assessment: $100
- Forfeiture: computer equipment
- Supervised Release: life
HOPKINS was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to receipt of child pornography.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia K. Hurd, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On December 21, 2007, law enforcement in Seattle, Washington received a disk which contained "Hello" files, which as part of another investigation, had been extracted from a computer. Google Hello is an Internet program which allows individuals to establish direct connections (peer-to-peer) between computers for the specific purpose of sharing pictures and chats. The Hello files identified approximately 85 individuals world-wide who had recently communicated about and exchanged child pornography with an individual in Florida.
A chat log was found which contained dialogue regarding the sexual exploitation of children, as well as the distribution and receipt of child pornography. The chat log contained thumbnail images of child pornography which had been exchanged during a chat on November 23, 2007, between HOPKINS in Montana and the individual in Florida. At the end of the chat there were 388 thumbnail images which had been exchanged during the conversation. Analysis of the chat log revealed HOPKINS had sent 190 images to the other individual in Florida. The same individual had sent 198 images to HOPKINS.
A substantial majority of images exchanged during the chat conversation depict prepubescent females in posed, sexually explicit positions wherein their genitalia was exposed in a lewd and lascivious manner. Other images depict sexual contact between minor females. HOPKINS knew that at least one of the individuals engaged in sexually explicit conduct was a minor.
Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that HOPKINS will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, HOPKINS does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In February 2006, the Department of Justice launched Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States 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/.