Colorado U.S. Attorney's Office Cracks Down On Men Traveling From Out-of-state To Colorado To Have Sex With Children
DENVER – The U.S. Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), have cracked down on individuals who travel to Colorado from other states with the intention of having sex with minor children. Two arrests were made last week, and a third individual pled guilty to the crime. All three are held in custody.
Brian Franklin Howard, age 37, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was arrested on April 2, 2015, at Denver International Airport by HSI and the Denver Police Department after he flew here to have sex with children. Howard initially came into contact with an undercover HSI agent on line. The agent was using the persona of a single mother of children, ages 10 and 14. At one point Howard took photos of his penis and sent them to the single mother persona, indicating that he would like for her to show them to her daughters. He then arranged to meet her and her children in Denver. He flew from Las Vegas to Denver, where he was met with an agent acting in an undercover capacity at DIA. Once he confirmed his intent to have sex with the children he was arrested. Howard faces one count of aggravated sexual abuse with children (with a penalty of not less than 30 years and up to life in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine), two counts of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct (with a penalty of not more than 30 years in prison, and up to a $250,000 fine), and two counts of attempted coercion and enticement (with a penalty of not less than 10 years and up to life in prison, and up to a $250,000 fine). Howard is scheduled to have a detention hearing on April 8, 2015.
Also last week Matthew Hornung, age 33, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was arrested by HSI and the Colorado State Patrol on March 28, 2015, after driving to Colorado to have sex with children. Hornung also met an undercover agent on line. The agent was using the single mother persona, saying she had children ages 10 and 14. The defendant, intent on meeting the single mother and her two children, drove from Pennsylvania to Colorado. Hornung made it to Colorado, although his vehicle started to fail before he reached Greeley. He was arrested by HSI and the Colorado Highway Patrol after he approached the marked CSP car for assistance. The defendant faces one count of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct (with a penalty of not more than 30 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine). He has been ordered held without bond pending a resolution of his case.
Finally, Darwin Gowen, age 62, of St. Louis, Missouri, pled guilty on March 31, 2015, before U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson, to one count of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct (the penalty of which is not more than 30 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine). Gowen also met an HSI agent online, using the persona of a single mother with young children. He traveled from Missouri to Denver by plane, where he was arrested by HSI at DIA after confirming his intent to have sex with children, ages 11 and 15. Gowen is in federal custody pending sentencing.
“Preventing the sexual abuse of children is a top priority of this office,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “These cases should demonstrate to those who plan to travel from other states to Colorado in hopes of sexually exploiting children that there will be immediate and severe criminal consequences.”
“The sexual exploitation of children by predators has reached epidemic proportions nationally and internationally,” said David A. Thompson, special agent in charge of HSI Denver. “Targeting these predators through the tireless efforts by our HSI special agents has been a high priority for more than a decade. These cases demonstrate how every parent must remain vigilant to Internet predators who may pose in various disguises to meet and ultimately sexually exploit children.”
These cases were investigated by HSI with support from the Colorado State Patrol.
Howard and Gowen are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alecia Riewerts. Hornung is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Gibson. Howard and Hornung have been charged by Criminal Complaint. Anyone accused of committing a felony violation of federal law has a Constitutional right to be indicted by a grand jury. Both of those defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Gowen has pled guilty.