Sept. 14, 2010
PASADENA MAN CONVICTED OF DISTRIBUTING AND POSSESSING HUNDREDS OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY IMAGES AND VIDEOS
(HOUSTON) – Following a one-day bench trial, United States District Court Judge Gray Miller has found Bennie E. Richardson IV, of Pasadena, Texas, guilty of distributing and possessing child pornography, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.
Indicted in December 2008, Richardson, 39, a paid volunteer at a local children’s theater, was convicted today of both counts - distributing child pornography and possessing child pornography between July 14, 2008, and July 25, 2008, - as alleged in the indictment.
During today’s trial before Judge Miller, stipulated evidence was presented which proved that the charges against Richardson were the result of an investigation conducted by members of the Pasadena Independent School District Police Department and the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (HMICACTF) which focuses its attention on investigating offenses involving the exploitation of children via the Internet.
On July 14, 2008, an experienced HMICACTF officer entered a Peer 2 Peer network to locate and identify individuals making available large varieties or quantities of child pornography to others online. While searching online, using common search terms associated with child pornography for shared files accessible to the general public, the officer located a user in Pasadena offering 144 videos that, by their titles, appeared to be child pornography. Having accessed the shared files, the officer downloaded one of the videos which he recognized based on his training and extensive investigative experience as containing images previously identified and known as the “Vicky” series as well as other images of minor children engaging in oral, anal and vaginal sex with an adult male. One section of the video contains a young female (approximately 8-10 years of age) blindfolded and bound on her knees being forced to perform oral sex on an adult male.
On July 25, 2008, the HIMICACTF secured a state search warrant for the Pasadena residence where Richardson resided. HIMICATF officers, accompanied by LaPorte Police Department detectives, found Richardson on the second floor of the residence standing in front of a computer. Although the computer monitor was off, the computer was running and investigating officers found Richardson was running a file sharing program actively transferring files with names consistent with child pornography onto his computer. Officers seized two computer hard drives.
During an interview with officers, Richardson told officers he was the only person in the home using the computer in his room, that none of the other residents knew of his activities involving child pornography and that he was a computer technician and knowledgeable about computers. He admitted knowing what child pornography was, was familiar with common search terms associated with child pornography and that he was downloading and watching the child pornography because it relaxed him.
A forensic analysis of Richardson’s two computer hard drives were found to contain images and videos of children under the age of 18 participating in sexual activities. The first hard drive contained more than 500 images and more than 400 videos. The second hard drive contained approximately 130 images and approximately 10 suspect videos.
Richardson faces a mandatory minimum statutory sentence of five years imprisonment up to a maximum of 20 years for distribution of child pornography and a maximum 10-year sentence for the possession of child pornography. Richardson must also register as a sex offender. Upon completion of any prison term imposed, Richardson faces a maximum life term of supervised release during which the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect the children and prohibit the use of the Internet.
Richardson has been in federal custody without bond since his arrest following the return of the federal indictment and will remain in custody pending sentencing. Judge Miller has set sentencing for Dec. 10, 2010.
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.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Zack is prosecuting the case.
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