News and Press Releases


FRIDAY - January 15, 2010



RALEIGH - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that United States District Judge James C. Dever, III, yesterday sentenced CHRISTOPHER MARK SURLES, 26, of Rocky Mount, North Carolina to 120 months’ (10 years) in prison plus a life term of supervised release for possession of child pornography. SURLES was also ordered to pay restitution to a child whose sexual abuse was included in images the defendant collected. SURLES pled guilty to the charge in September 2009.

SURLES was identified by state investigators’ initiative to identify users who were registered sex offenders. SURLES had been registered because of a conviction for taking indecent liberties with a minor in 2000. A detective from the Nash County Sheriff’s Office and agents with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation identified SURLES as one such user and approached him at his residence for questioning. After SURLES consented to a search of a computer hard drive he handed to the investigators, agents quickly discovered child pornography on the hard drive and seized the drive for further analysis. Forensic analysis revealed a sizeable collection of child pornography, including over 200 videos of children being sexually abused.

Mr. Holding welcomed the result. “This defendant is further illustration of the direct connection between child pornography and those who view our children as targets of sexual abuse. The images that defendants like this one traffic in not only continue the abuse of the children contained in them, but also create risks for children everywhere when they fall into the hands of individuals like this one. I am grateful that SURLES was not only punished, but will be monitored for the rest of his life.”

This case is part of the Project Safe Childhood initiative, a national program aimed at ensuring that criminals exploiting 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, Project Safe Childhood, go to

Investigation of this case was conducted by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Nash County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Jay Exum represented the government.

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at within 48 hours of release.

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