URBANA, Ill. – A Champaign, Illinois, man, Charles Howard, 41, of the 400 block of North James St., was sentenced on April 12, 2022, to 40 years’ (480 months) imprisonment for sexual exploitation of a minor and possession of child pornography.
According to court documents, Howard sexually abused and exploited a 15-year-old minor female in his care and threatened to kill her and himself if she disclosed the abuse.
Howard has two prior convictions for criminal sexual abuse in Champaign County, from 2000 and 2001, and was a registered sex offender on the date of this offense. Howard was initially arrested by state authorities in June 2020.
A federal grand jury charged Howard with one count of sexual exploitation of a minor, one count of possession of child pornography, and one count of commission of a sex offense as a registered sex offender in September 2020. Howard was transferred to the custody of the U.S. Marshals service, where he has remained. He pleaded guilty in October 2021 to the three-count indictment.
Senior U.S. District Judge Michael Mihm found that the defendant engaged in pattern of abuse that caused physical injury to the victim and would have lasting effects on the victim’s life. In imposing the 40-year imprisonment sentence, Judge Mihm said Howard’s conduct was “as bad as it gets.” Judge Mihm also sentenced Howard to a lifetime term of supervised release, following his release from prison.
“HSI is proud to work with our law enforcement partners to protect our communities by making sure offenders like Howard are investigated,” said Homeland Security Investigations Chicago Special Agent in Charge Angie Salazar. “We will continue to identify and investigate those who endanger our most vulnerable population and protect our children. We will not allow crimes against children to go unpunished.”
“It takes dedicated investigative work and coordinated effort to ensure that our young people are protected from such heinous actions. I am thankful to our law enforcement partners for their assistance in seeing this case to its lawful conclusion,” said Champaign Interim Police Chief Thomas Petrilli.
“Through the cooperation and tireless work of our state, local, and federal law enforcement partners, we are able to ensure that repeat offenders who destroy children’s adolescence are brought to justice,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly M. Peirson.
U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations and the Champaign Police Department conducted the investigation with the cooperation of Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Reitz. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly Peirson represented the government in this prosecution.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice to combat the 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.