St. Joseph Man Indicted on Child Pornography Charges
URBANA, Ill. – An initial trial date in March has been scheduled for a St. Joseph, Ill., man, William M. Bell, 39, who has been arrested and indicted on federal child pornography charges. Bell, a former information technology employee of Monticello, Ill., community unit school district 25, was arrested on Feb. 8, on charges returned by the grand jury on Feb. 5. The indictment had remained sealed pending Bell’s arrest. Following his arrest, Bell was ordered to remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending a detention hearing which was held this morning.
At today’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Harold A. Baker ordered Bell to remain detained in law enforcement custody. Trial for Bell is scheduled on March 5, 2019, before U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough, in Springfield.
The indictment alleges that in July and August 2018, Bell used a computer or device to send visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and in November 2018, that Bell possessed images of child pornography.
If convicted, the statutory penalty for each count of transportation of child pornography (two counts) is five to 20 years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000; possession of child pornography carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly M. Peirson. The charges are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Champaign County Sheriff’s office, and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
The 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 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.