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Monday, August 2, 2010

Department of Justice

Acting United States Attorney Gregg L. Sullivan Eastern District of Tennessee


DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE RELEASES FIRST NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR CHILD EXPLOITATION PREVENTION AND INTERDICTION

U.S. Marshals Service to Launch Nationwide Operation Targeting Top 500 Most Dangerous, Non-compliant Sex Offenders

KNOXVILLE, Tenn - Following an announcement today by Attorney General Eric Holder, Acting United States Attorney Gregg Sullivan today announced that the Department of Justice released its first ever National Strategy to Combat Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction. The strategy also provides the first ever comprehensive threat assessment of the dangers facing children from child pornography, online enticement, child sex tourism, commercial sexual exploitation, and sexual exploitation in Indian Country, and outlines a blueprint to strengthen the fight against these crimes. The strategy builds upon the Department's accomplishments in combating child exploitation by establishing specific, aggressive goals and priorities and increasing cooperation and collaboration at all levels of government and the private sector.

As part of the overall strategy, the U.S. Marshals Service is launching a nationwide operation targeting the top 500 most dangerous, non-compliant sex offenders in the nation. Additionally, the Department will create a national database to allow federal, state, tribal, local and international law enforcement partners to deconflict their cases with each other, engage in undercover operations from a portal facilitated or hosted by the database, share information and intelligence and conduct analysis on dangerous offenders and future threats and trends. The Department also created 38 additional Assistant U.S. Attorney positions to devote to child exploitation cases, and over the coming months will work to fill the vacancies and train the new assistants in this specialized area. One of these positions was awarded to the Eastern District of Tennessee.

"Although we've made meaningful progress in protecting children across the country, and although we've brought a record number of offenders to justice in recent years, it is time to renew our commitment to this work. It is time to intensify our efforts," said Attorney General Holder. "This new strategy provides the roadmap necessary to do just that - to streamline our education, prevention and prosecution activities; to improve information sharing and collaboration; and to make the most effective use of limited resources. Together, we are sending an important message - that the U.S. government, and our nation's Department of Justice, has never been more committed to protecting our children and to bringing offenders to justice."

Acting U.S. Attorney Gregg Sullivan said, “These are some of the most reprehensible and disturbing cases we prosecute. They involve our most vulnerable victims and we often encounter violent and sadistic acts performed on extremely young children, sometimes even infants. For every image of child pornography to exist, a child was harmed. We will continue to do everything that we can to educate the public about the seriousness of these crimes and to apprehend those who endanger our children. I commend the extraordinary dedication of the men and women who investigate and prosecute these difficult crimes. They are true heroes.”

The strategy first analyzed the threat to our nation's children and described the current efforts at all levels of the government against this threat. Since FY 2006, the Department of Justice has filed 8,464 Project Safe Childhood (PSC) cases against 8,637 defendants. These cases include prosecutions of online enticement of children to engage in sexual activity, interstate transportation of children to engage in sexual activity, production, distribution and possession of child pornography, and other offenses.

In the Eastern District of Tennessee, 90 PSC cases have been filed against 90 defendants. To date, all 90 have been convicted. Sentences have ranged from 18 months to life imprisonment and over 70% have received a sentence greater than 61 months imprisonment. Federal laws also allow for extended periods of supervised release (up to life) for sexual offenders after they have been released from prison.

A few of the cases prosecuted in East Tennessee include:

U.S. v. David Aaron Becker

Becker was convicted of production of child pornography in Knoxville in 2007. He had a previous conviction for molesting children in Colorado. Becker worked as a high school umpire to facilitate his meeting of young boys who he then photographed while he was sexually molesting them. These images were then distributed over the internet. Becker was sentenced to life without parole.

U.S. v William Arthur Hulsey, Jr.

Hulsey was convicted of possession of child pornography in Knoxville in 2009. During the forensic examination of Hulsey's computer media, it was determined that in addition to his possessing many thousands of images of child pornography, he was beginning to devise a scheme to kidnap, rape, and burn a child to death. Hulsey was sentenced to 120 months in prison, the maximum for possession of child pornography without a previous conviction.

U.S. v. Jimmy Sprague

Sprague was convicted of receipt of child pornography in Greeneville in 2008. He had seven previous convictions for sex crimes against children in state court. Sprague also had a history of portraying Santa Claus at local community centers and schools. A search of his computer media found thousands of images of child pornography and he was sentenced to 360 months in prison.

U.S. v Eugene Wade Clowers

Clowers was convicted of production of child pornography in Chattanooga in 2007. He had cultivated a relationship with a minor female in East Tennessee for the purpose of having sex with her. Clowers then filmed his sexual acts with the minor on videotape while broadcasting it live over the internet for others to view. After a lengthy sentencing hearing, he was sentenced to 360 months in prison.

These cases are the result of a collaborative effort on behalf of all of the members of the Eastern District of Tennessee’s PSC Coalition who work together to ensure these cases are investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Members of the Coalition include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Knoxville Police Department Internet Crimes Against Children Unit, Knox County Sheriff's Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Marshals Service, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Knox County District Attorney's Office, Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, Morristown Police Department, Sevierville Police Department, Sevier County Sheriff's Office, and other members of the East Tennessee law enforcement community.

Despite vigorously fighting all aspects of child exploitation, the Department recognized that more work remains to be done. To that end, the Department's strategy lays out goals to increase coordination among the nation's investigators, better train investigators and prosecutors, advance law enforcement's technological capabilities and enhance research to inform decisions on deterrence, incarceration and monitoring. The strategy also includes a renewed commitment to public awareness and community outreach.

As part of its public outreach efforts, the Department today re-launched ProjectSafeChildhood.gov, the PSC public website. PSC is a Department initiative launched in 2006 that aims to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated sexual exploitation crimes against children. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC marshals federal, state, tribal and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.

Since the implementation of PSC, the Eastern District of Tennessee’s PSC Coalition has sponsored more than 50 public outreach and education events throughout East Tennessee. Additionally, the Coalition has sponsored 49 law enforcement training events designed to improve the investigative skills of law enforcement officers so they can better handle these very sensitive cases.

For more information regarding the National Strategy to Combat Child Exploitation, Prevention and Interdiction, please visit: www.projectsafechildhood.gov/docs/natstrategyreport.pdf.

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