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:
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.