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LOGAN COUNTY MAN SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS IN PRISON FOR SECRETLY VIDEO RECORDING YOUNG CHILDREN IN HIS HOUSE AND SWAPPING IMAGES FOR CHILD PORN

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2013
http://www.justice.gov/usao/ohs
CONTACT: Fred Alverson
Public Affairs Officer
(614) 469-5715

COLUMBUS – Mickell E. Close, 32, of Quincy, Ohio was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 300 months in prison for recording nude images of three young children in his house and exchanging them on the Internet for images of child pornography.

Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, William Hayes, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Ohio and Michigan, Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott who heads the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, and Logan County Sheriff Andrew J. Smith announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr.

Close pleaded guilty on January 17, 2013 to one count of using minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of the conduct. According to a statement read by an HSI agent during the plea hearing, law enforcement officials patrolling the internet in June 2012 identified an email account connected to sharing child pornography. Investigators traced the account to Close.

Further investigation found that Close had placed cameras in his house to surreptitiously record video of three minor females as young as three years old as they were nude in the bathroom. He created hundreds of videos and thousands of still images of the victims and posted and traded the photos and videos by email and the internet in exchange for images and videos of child pornography.

“Once images of exploitation are on the internet, they never go away,” U.S. Attorney Stewart said. “This adds to the indignity and humiliation the victims are already facing.”

“The defendant’s actions in this case involve his ongoing abuse of the trust that was placed in him by three pre-pubescent girls and their families,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Hill wrote in a memorandum filed with the court prior to sentencing. “This devastating invasion of the privacy of young girls was further exacerbated by the defendant’s trading of the images and videos he had created to others who shared his perverted interests.”

Logan County Sheriff’s deputies working with HSI arrested Close on November 9. He has been in custody since his arrest.

“Today's sentencing is another step toward healing for the victims of the depraved acts perpetrated by the defendant in this case,” said William Hayes, acting special agent in charge of HSI Detroit, which covers Michigan and Ohio. “While we cannot restore the innocence stolen from the young victims in cases like these, we will continue to make the aggressive pursuit of their predators among our highest priorities.”

“Individuals who represent the worst of the worst are the reasons why we do what we do,” Franklin County Sheriff Scott said. “Close’s sentence can prevent other children from horrific and unimaginable abuse. It's because of the cooperative effort between all of the agencies that make up the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and HSI, that predators are identified and brought to justice.”

Close was also ordered to forfeit all computer equipment and visual depictions of the child pornography that were seized from him at the time of the execution of the search warrant in this case. Close will be under court supervision for 20 years after he completes his prison term. U.S. Probation Office to install monitoring software on any computer he owns, uses or has access to during his period of supervised release. He will also be required to register as a sex offender anywhere he lives, works or goes to school.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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