GEORGE E. B. HOLDING
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
TUESDAY - October 16, 2007
WILMINGTON MAN SENTENCED FOR CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
GREENVILLE – Today, Chief United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced LUKE MICHAEL CHURCHILL of Wilmington (formerly of Omaha, Nebraska) to 95 months’ imprisonment for possession of over 1,000 images of child pornography. The sentence also included a fine of $5,000 and a 15 year term of supervised release upon expiration of CHURCHILL’s term of incarceration.
CHURCHILL was reported to law enforcement when a portion of his child pornography collection was discovered by an overnight guest at his residence. Acting upon this information, the FBI and the Wilmington Police Department executed a search of the residence and conducted a forensic examination of CHURCHILL’s computer. The images recovered from CHURCHILL’s computer and residence included depictions of the rape and sexual abuse of prepubescent children, including toddlers. An impact statement written by the mother of one of the children whose abuse images were in CHURCHILL’s possession was read at the sentencing.
United States Attorney George E. B. Holding applauded the sentence: “I am pleased to see that our district and our federal courts continue to treat child pornography crimes as the extraordinary evil that they are. It is an unfortunate reality that pedophiles have taken the same power of the Internet that has accomplished so much good and used it as a tool to perpetuate the sexual abuse of children. As the impact statement read in court today makes clear, child pornography is not a ‘victimless’ crime. The rape of a child whose images are sent around the world never really ends; every time someone uses the pictures of that crime for their own gratification, the abuse is renewed.”
“This case should serve as a warning to anyone who seeks out this material that their conduct cannot be excused or minimized simply because they may not be the person who took the photograph, or may not have taken direct part in abuse depicted. All child pornography crimes are serious and deserve serious consequences. Our office will continue to treat them as being among our highest priorities.”
CHURCHILL was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a national program aimed at ensuring that child exploitation criminals are effectively prosecuted by making full use of all available law enforcement resources at every level, whether state, federal or local. Holding thanked the Wilmington Police Department for working with the FBI to prepare the case for federal prosecution.
In addition to the Wilmington Police and the FBI, investigative support was provided by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Joe Exum, Jr. prosecuted the case for the United States.
More information about Project Safe Childhood can be found at www.projectsafechildhood.gov
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.