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Press Release

University Professor Indicted for Trafficking Images of Child Sex Abuse

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned an indictment today against Rodger Githens, 45, of West Sacramento, charging him with receipt and distribution of images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, in late March 2023, Githens, using the profile “Tall laid back,” initiated contact with an account on the Grindr app controlled by an undercover FBI agent. Githens encouraged the undercover FBI agent to establish an account with the Telegram app, since it was considered more secure. Githens several times discussed traveling to Fresno to meet the agent and a supposed 7-year-old niece for sexual purposes, but law enforcement served a search warrant at Githens’s residence on April 19, 2023, and seized multiple electronic devices. Agents discovered numerous Telegram chats on Githens’s phone, including several in which he was exchanging and commenting on videos of young children being sexually abused.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the West Sacramento Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gappa is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Githens faces five to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, a lifetime of supervised release, and forfeiture of any property used to facilitate commission of the offense. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit Click on the “resources” tab for information about internet-safety education.

Updated May 4, 2023

Project Safe Childhood