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Dec. 20, 2010

FORMER SOLDIER SENTENCED FOR TRANSFERRING OBSCENE MATTER TO FORT BEND MINOR

(HOUSTON) - Robert Douglas Dewitt, a 20-year-old former soldier, has been sentenced to 60 months in federal prison and is required to register as a sex offender for life for transferring obscene matter to a minor, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. U.S. District Court Judge David Hittner handed down the sentence today in federal court in Houston.

Dewitt was charged in a four-count indictment returned on July 14, 2010, with providing obscene material by means of a cellular telephone and the Internet to a minor on four occasions between Jan. 14, 2010, and Feb. 10, 2010. Dewitt was attending basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., at the time of the indictment. The minor resides in Ft. Bend County and met Dewitt online through MySpace. Dewitt was taken into federal custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) on July 21, 2010, in Springfield, Mo., and appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge there. He was ordered detained and then transferred to Houston. On Sept. 28, 2010, he pleaded guilty to count one as alleged in the indictment.

Dewitt admitted that around August 2009 he sent a friend request on MySpace to the victim, whose profile stated she was 18 years old, when in fact she was only 12. Dewitt and the victim communicated regularly by both phone and computer during which time the victim informed Dewitt that she was 12 years old. However, he told the victim that it was okay to continue their friendship/relationship. Dewitt admitted he sent multiple sexually explicit photos as well as videos of him masturbating to the victim. In turn, the victim sent him sexually explicit photos of herself.

The ICE-HSI investigation determined that Dewitt used a mobile phone to talk, text and send photos and videos to the victim. A forensic examination of the victim’s family computer indicated he requested and encouraged the victim to send sexually explicit pictures to him. In addition, the forensic examination of that computer as well as Dewitt’s mobile phone also  recovered the exchange of sexual images and videos, provocative text and electronic mail and music with sexual content during the period of Jan. 8, 2010, through Feb. 23, 2010. Among the recovered files, the examinations also discovered Dewitt sent a total of 10 videos of himself masturbating, one video of himself masturbating and ejaculating and at least four nude photos of himself.

In addition the five-year-term of imprisonment, Dewitt has also been ordered to serve a three-year-term of supervised release during which the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect children and prohibit his use of the Internet. Additionally, he will be required to register for life as a sex offender and has been prohibited from contacting the victim or her family. Dewitt has been in federal custody since his arrest in July and will remain in custody to serve out his sentence.

This case 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. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices, 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 charges against Dewitt are the result of an investigation conducted by members of the ICE-HSI Cyber-Crime Operation Predator Squad dedicated to investigating online exploitation of children and child pornography and the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Demetrius K. Bivins is prosecuting the case.

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