Member Of Child Exploitation Ring Pleads Guilty
ICE‑led Operation Goodbye focused on sharing images via social networking site
PITTSBURGH, Pa. ‑ Dave Dean, a member of a an international group of child pornography collectors who used a social networking site to distribute thousands of sexually explicit images to each other, has pleaded guilty in federal court in Pittsburgh to a charge of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, Acting United States Attorney Robert S. Cessar announced today. Dean, age 42, who previously resided in Texas and Arizona, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.
Information presented during the change of plea hearing established that from January 1, 2007, to September 22, 2009, Dean engaged in a child exploitation enterprise through a series of felony child pornography violations constituting more than three separate incidents that were performed in concert with multiple people and that involved many child victims. Specifically, Dean and others distributed images and videos of children being sexually abused to other members of a closed international group that had formed on a social networking website. Members of the group distributed thousands of sexually explicit images and videos of children to each other, many of which were of prepubescent, male children, some as young as infants, being graphically sexually abused and sometimes sodomized or subjected to bondage.
Judge Schwab scheduled sentencing for December 3, 2010, at 9:30 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of not less than 20 years and up to life in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the High Tech Investigative Unit of the Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Dean. Trial attorney Barak Cohen of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant United States Attorney Craig W. Haller prosecuted the case.
The case is a product of Project Safe Childhood. Launched in February 2006, Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Department of Justice, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.