North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty to Production of Child Pornography
A North Carolina man pleaded guilty Monday to production of child pornography.
According to statements made in connection with his plea, when allegations of child pornography came to light, Raul Ayala Jr., 72, of Harnett County, was interviewed by the Fuquay-Varina Police Department and admitted to molesting a prepubescent minor victim, as well as other victims as far back as the 1970s. A search warrant was thereafter executed at Ayala’s residence in Angier and multiple digital devices were seized. The devices contained numerous images and videos of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). In addition, the police found a briefcase in Ayala’s attic, suspended by a pulley system, that contained CSAM and Polaroid pictures of nude minor children, dating back to the late 1960s and early 1970s. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents were able to track down and identify one of the boys depicted in the Polaroids. He is now in his 60s and disclosed that Ayala had sexually abused him when he was a minor, starting when he was 8 years old.
“This case demonstrates that child sex offenders too often engage in their offenses over great periods of time without detection,” said acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This prosecution resulted from the successful collaboration of diligent federal and local law enforcement officers in their efforts to pursue justice for children, regardless of the passage of time. Ayala committed egregious offenses for decades and his successful prosecution ensures that he now faces a sentence of no less than 15 years. The Department of Justice is committed to tirelessly tracking down and pursuing the prosecution of defendants like Ayala who victimize the most vulnerable members of our society.”
“Child pornography – the horrible exploitation of the most vulnerable among us – is one of the worst and most intolerable crimes we prosecute, and this plea reflects the Department of Justice’s deep and abiding commitment to removing these predators and restoring our children,” said Acting U.S. Attorney G. Norman Acker III of the Eastern District of North Carolina. “This case allows us to take another step in the right direction as we work to eliminate this crime and its terrible consequences for our communities.”
“As disturbing as these child sex abuse cases are, HSI is determined to prevent and punish those who sexually abuse innocent children,” said Special Agent in Charge Ronnie Martinez of HSI’s Charlotte Field Office. “Working together with our partners in the Fuquay-Varina Police Department and the Hartnett County Sheriff’s Office, these cases can be investigated thoroughly and expeditiously so children can continue to be rescued. There is nothing more meaningful than locating, identifying, and rescuing child sex abuse victims.”
Ayala faces up to 30 years of imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum term of 15 years of imprisonment, to be followed by supervised release for at least five years, and restitution. After release from prison, Ayala will be required to register as a sex offender.
Trial Attorney Charles Schmitz of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Charity Wilson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina prosecuted the case.
The HSI Raleigh Field Office investigated the case with assistance from the Fuquay-Varina Police Department and the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office. CEOS’s High Tech Investigative Unit provided substantial assistance.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and 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 http://www.justice.gov/psc.