Ponchatoula Man Pleads Guilty to Collecting Over 500,000 Images of Child Pornography
U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that ROBERT SWAN, age 52, of Ponchatoula, pled guilty today for his role in sexual exploiting children, including receiving images depicting the sexual victimization of children.
According to court documents, on January 30, 2013, investigators with the State of Louisiana Department of Justice – Office of the Attorney General, Cyber Crime Unit, executed a search warrant on SWAN’S residence. The search was based on evidence obtained by law enforcement that between about November 30, 2012, and December 1, 2012, SWAN distributed, by making publicly available in the shared folder of his peer-to-peer program, videos depicting the sexual victimization of children between the ages of two and ten. Agents seized fifteen separate digital devices, including multiple computers, hard drives, and flash drives.
While reviewing materials seized in the search, agents found digital materials evidencing that in about January 2010, SWAN and his associate, Thomas Middleton, forced a then-three year-old girl to engage in sexually explicit conduct, which SWAN recorded.
Additionally, agents found that between about May 2010 and January 2013, SWAN had downloaded, saved, and catalogued at least 500,000 images and videos—one of the largest collections of child pornography found in the State of Louisiana—depicting children as young as at least four weeks old being forced to engage in sexually explicit conduct. Titles of many of the videos were consistent with the content of the videos.
Because of SWAN’S prior conviction in 1987 for lewd and lascivious assault of a minor in Escambia County, Florida, SWAN faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of fifteen years and a maximum sentence of forty years, followed by up to a life term of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. He can also be required to register as a sex offender. Sentencing before U.S. District Judge Berrigan has been scheduled for March 25, 2015.
“Robert Swan has been brought to justice for collecting over 500,000 images of child pornography, one of the largest collections ever seized in our state,” stated U.S. Attorney Polite. “Our Office, along with our federal and state law enforcement partners, will remain vigilant in fighting the sexual exploitation of our region’s most vulnerable victims -- our children.”
“Robert Swan is every parent’s worst nightmare,” said Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. “When our Cyber Crime Unit begins an undercover investigation, we never know how dangerous the person lurking on the other side of the computer will be. In this case, our forensic examination revealed that Swan not only possessed or shared half a million images depicting the sexual abuse of children, but also that he actually teamed up with another pedophile to abuse an innocent child. We are very pleased and proud that our Cyber Crime Unit was instrumental in putting this pedophile behind bars.”
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 individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”
U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the State of Louisiana Department of Justice – Office of the Attorney General, Cyber Crime Unit in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg is in charge of the prosecution.