News and Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

TUESDAY - August 26, 2008

UNITED STATES ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES RETURNED INDICTMENTS INVOLVING THE SEXUAL ABUSE AND EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN

RALEIGH – Today, United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in a single session last week, a federal grand jury handed down six separate indictments for crimes involving the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. The defendants charged were TRAVIS DITTRICH, formerly of Pender County, CHRISTOPHER MARK SURLES of Rocky Mount, RUSSELL BIATHROW of Fayetteville, DANIEL CARL SHERWIN of Elizabeth City, and SCOTT ALEXANDER FRANTZ, formerly of Willow Springs.

Though the cases are similar and every case involves child pornography, the crimes charged cover a broad range of conduct, a variety of defendants and are unrelated factually:

  • All six defendants’ cases include charges involving the receipt and possession of child pornography.
  • The six defendants cover the Eastern District of North Carolina from some of its easternmost areas to its westernmost, and several communities in between.
  • The indictments are based on investigative work done at every level of law enforcement – local, state and federal. Every one of the following agencies served as the lead investigative agency in at least one case: the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Pender County Sheriff’s Office, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, the Nash County Sheriff’s Office, and the Rockland County, New York, Sheriff’s Office.
  • SHERWIN is charged with eleven counts of making homemade child pornography.
  • FRANTZ is charged with advertising and soliciting child pornography for trading, as well as transmitting child pornography over the Internet.
  • SHERWIN has a previous conviction for child exploitation crimes.
  • SURLES has a prior conviction related to child sexual abuse.
  • Mr. Holding commented, “Although I am appalled by the increasing frequency with which our office is faced with child sexual abuse and exploitation cases, I have every intention of seeing to it that we dedicate the prosecutorial resources necessary to combat it effectively. Every child in every picture is a victim that our office intends to fight for with every means at our disposal. The Eastern District of North Carolina is hostile territory for anyone who considers the sexual abuse of a child an acceptable form of entertainment, and I intend to do everything within my power to keep it that way.”

    These indictments mark a grim milepost in Project Safe Childhood, a program launched by then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and implemented in the Eastern District of North Carolina with the intention of combating childhood sexual abuse by ensuring that criminals who exploit children are effectively prosecuted by making full use of all available law enforcement resources at every level. “Neither our office nor any law enforcement agency acting alone can deal with a problem of this magnitude,” said Holding. “Our success in Project Safe Childhood has been built on the consistent cooperation and sharing of resources not only between federal agencies, but between investigators at every level. Our community has every right to be concerned about this problem, but it can also be proud and reassured that it has been blessed with such a well-functioning team of investigators district-wide who consistently put the protection of our children first.”

    An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

    For more information about this important national project, Project Safe Childhood, go to 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.

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