FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
TUESDAY - March 11, 2008
PREVIOUSLY CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER RECEIVES 35 YEAR-SENTENCE FOR TRANSMITTING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
RALEIGH – United States Attorney George E. B. Holding announced that today, United States District Court Judge James C. Dever, III, sentenced JOHNNY RAY LEE, 40, of Goldsboro, Wayne County, North Carolina, to 420 months’ (35 years’) imprisonment for transmitting child pornography over the Internet.
LEE, a registered sex offender, was a parolee from the state of Wisconsin who had been convicted in 1994 for sexually abusing two children in that state. After being paroled in 2000 and re-incarcerated after twice violating his parole in 2002 (once for being in possession of child pornography), LEE was released again in late 2004 and moved to North Carolina. Not long after his arrival, LEE began the trafficking in child pornography that led to today’s sentence.
LEE was caught when a police detective in Keene, New Hampshire, acting in an undercover capacity, received child pornography from LEE over the Internet. That detective alerted the Goldsboro Police Department, which in turn contacted the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, which began its own undercover operation. The SBI operation culminated in LEE agreeing to meet an undercover agent at a Goldsboro-area restaurant for the ostensible purpose of giving the agent, whom LEE believed to be another individual interested in collecting child pornography, computer media containing child pornography. LEE arrived at the meeting with those materials. A subsequent examination of the materials and LEE’s personal computer revealed that these items did, in fact, depict the sexual abuse of children, and that LEE had been using the internet to trade in child pornography. LEE admitted to having transmitted child pornography over the internet, including doing so by use of online photo-sharing websites. He pled guilty to child pornography and obscenity charges in November of 2007.
United States Attorney George E.B. Holding was pleased with the result. “I am grateful that the Court was able to bring this criminal career to an end. This case is another sobering reminder that we cannot meaningfully separate child pornography crimes from other child sex abuse crimes. The reality is that they feed on one another. The Court today made an emphatic statement that child pornography is not a victimless crime to be taken lightly. In fact, as the facts of this case illustrate, this material is fuel for predators who view children as objects of sexual gratification. This material not only victimizes the children who appear in the images; it makes all of our children less safe.”
Holding also thanked law enforcement for their coordination of the investigation: “I want to extend a special thanks to the policeman in Keene, New Hampshire who didn’t dismiss this matter as being outside his responsibility just because it was outside of his jurisdiction. By reaching out to us, that policeman made our district safer even from hundreds of miles away. I would also like to thank our state Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force for once again demonstrating its effectiveness in pursuing justice in Project Safe Childhood cases. We are beyond fortunate to live in a district where they regularly demonstrate excellence in coordinating investigations like these among multiple law enforcement agencies.”
LEE was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a national program aimed at ensuring that criminals who sexually exploit and abuse children are effectively prosecuted by making full use of all available law enforcement resources at every level. For more information about this important national project, go to www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Assistant U. S. Attorney Jay Exum handled the case for the United States.
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.