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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Arkansas

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Searcy Man Sentenced to 262 Months' Imprisonment for Production of Child Pornography

LITTLE ROCK—Patrick C. Harris, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Faulkner County Sheriff Tim Ryals, announced today that Mitchell Johnson, 44, of Searcy, was sentenced to 262 months’ imprisonment and ten years of supervised release for production of child pornography.

Johnson was originally indicted in a five-count Indictment on March 2, 2016.Johnson was charged with one count of production of child pornography, two counts of distribution of child pornography, one count of receipt of child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography. On November 21, 2016, Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of production of child pornography. The remaining counts of the Indictment were dismissed.

In Thursday’s hearing United States District Judge D.P. Marshall, Jr., specifically found that Johnson engaged in sexual contact with a minor. Johnson must also register as a sex offender.

“It is every parent’s worst nightmare to entrust their child to the care of someone else and have them sexually exploited,” Harris said. “What Johnson did to this innocent child is reprehensible and the sentence reflects the gravity of his actions.”

The investigation began in October 2015, when an undercover Faulkner County Sheriff’s investigator (UC) answered an advertisement on Craigslist seeking individuals who were into “family fun, especially dad/son, uncle/nephew.” After answering the advertisement, the UC and Johnson began chatting on the KIK messenger application.

Throughout the course of their conversations, Johnson sent the UC several images of child pornography. One of the images depicted a minor’s erect penis visible above his orange and blue boxer shorts. Johnson described the photograph as the erect penis of an 11-year-old minor who was spending the night at his residence. Johnson told the UC that the minor’s penis became erect when Johnson licked the minor’s nipples while the minor was sleeping.

“Today’s sentence of 21 years is a strong reflection of our repulsion at Johnson’s actions in producing child pornography involving a child under the age of 12,” Upchurch said. “Together with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas, the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office, and the Ouachita Parish in Louisiana, we will continue to be committed to aggressively prosecuting and seeking appropriate punishment for child pornography crimes.”

While investigating Johnson, the FBI received information from the law enforcement in Louisiana that Johnson was engaging in text conversations with another individual and was sending child pornography to that individual. Agents obtained copies of the text messages and determined that Johnson sent the same images of child pornography to the suspect in Louisiana that he sent to the UC.

“The Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office will continue to work diligently, fighting to prevent these types of crimes from occurring in Faulkner County through proactive investigations,” Sheriff Ryals said. “Professional work by the agencies involved paid off in this case, and Mr. Johnson will not be a concern to the citizens for a long time.”

This investigation was conducted by the FBI, the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office, and the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kristin Bryant.

Project Safe Childhood
Updated April 21, 2017