YOUTH VOLUNTEER AT TARRANT COUNTY CHURCH IS ARRESTED ON FEDERAL CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGE
Defendant Ordered Detained
FORT WORTH, Texas — A detention/probable cause hearing was held this morning for Derek M. Ripley, 27, of Fort Worth, Texas, who was arrested on a federal criminal complaint charging distribution of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey L. Cureton ordered Ripley, who has been in custody since his arrest following the execution of a federal search warrant at his residence on Thursday, detained pending further court proceedings.
According to testimony presented at this morning’s hearing and information contained in the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Ripley volunteered his time working with the youth at Trinity Chapel Church on Southwest Boulevard in Benbrook, Texas. In November 2010, an FBI agent, working in an undercover capacity, used peer-to-peer file-sharing to determine that an individual, using a particular username, was logged into the network. The undercover agent browsed this particular user name's shared folders and observed numerous images of child pornography, including movie files of prepubescent males engaged in sexual activity. Further investigation revealed that this particular user was Ripley.
A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offenses charged, and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. If convicted of this offense, however, Ripley faces a statutory sentence of not less than five years or more than 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a lifetime of supervised release. The U.S. Attorney’s office has 30 days to present the matter to a grand jury for indictment.
This matter was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice, to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. 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 via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The matter is being investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex C. Lewis.
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