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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Connecticut

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 15, 2022

Connecticut Man Charged with Child Exploitation Offenses, Making Interstate Threats

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and David Sundberg, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced that GREGORY BUTTS, 51, of Sprague, has been charged by federal criminal complaint with child exploitation offenses and making threatening communications.

Butts appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas O. Farrish in Hartford.  He has been detained since March 4, 2022, when he was arrested for violating his state probation.

As alleged in the complaint, in November 2020, family and friends of two missing juveniles in Colorado posted information about the missing juveniles on social media pages and included a phone number asking the public to call with information.  Butts, with his own phone number blocked, called the number and spoke to a female friend of the missing juveniles, who recorded the conversation.  Butts stated that he was with the missing juveniles and had had sexual contact with them.  He threatened to harm the missing juveniles if the conversation were recorded or if law enforcement were contacted, and threatened the female friend who answered the phone.  He then said that he would return the missing juveniles if the female friend would have sexual intercourse with him.  Shortly after the juveniles had been reported missing, they returned home.  They were not harmed and had not been kidnapped.

Is it further alleged that investigators determined that the call emanated from a lightly-populated area in Sprague, Connecticut, and that Butts was a registered sex offender living in the area who was on probation following a state conviction for illegal sexual contact with a minor.  After a Connecticut probation officer identified Butts’ voice on the recording, probation officers searched Butts’ residence and another residence where he also had been staying and seized a computer, storage devices, multiple cell phones and other items.  A search of the seized items revealed thousands of images and videos of child pornography.

It is also alleged that a search of the seized items revealed downloaded conversations Butts had on Snapchat with minors.  In the chats, Butts engaged in sexually explicit conversations, made numerous threats and demanded, and sometimes received, sexually explicit photos.

The complaint charges Butts with possession of a child pornography, which, based on his criminal history, carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years; attempted coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, which carries mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life; and making an interstate threat to injure, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.

U.S. Attorney Avery stressed that a criminal complaint is not evidence of guilt.  Charges are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New Haven, Connecticut and Loveland, Colorado, with the assistance of the Connecticut Office of Adult Probation, Connecticut State Police and the Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy V. Gifford.

U.S. Attorney Avery thanked the State’s Attorney’s Office for the Judicial District of New London for its close cooperation in investigating and prosecuting this matter.

This prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood Initiative, which is aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

To report cases of child exploitation, please visit www.cybertipline.com

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated July 15, 2022