Benson Man Sentenced to 30 Years Imprisonment After Soliciting Child Pornography from Minors on the Internet
RALEIGH — The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced that today, United States District Judge James C. Dever, III, sentenced Andrew Jonathan Bowles, 28, of Benson to 360 months’ imprisonment, followed by 15 years of supervised release. Bowles pled guilty to one count of manufacturing child pornography on January 24, 2019.
In July 2017, the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department conducted an undercover investigation that identified an online profile out of North Carolina that was posting on internet forums about a desire to have sex with children. Metro PD referred the investigation to the FBI in North Carolina, who reached out to the target profile using an undercover investigator. In November of 2017, the target profile repeatedly expressed interest in engaging in sexual activity with the undercover persona’s supposed 10-year-old daughter. The target also distributed child pornographic files to the FBI’s undercover persona.
Through undercover conversation and legal process, the FBI was able to identify the target profile as belonging to the defendant Andrew BOWLES. Law enforcement executed a search warrant at BOWLES’ Benson residence on December 6, 2018. They seized multiple electronic devices, which were found to contain over 2,600 images and 1,200 videos of child pornography. BOWLES agreed to be interviewed and admitted to downloading and sharing child pornography.
Further forensic examination of BOWLES cellphone revealed that he had communicated online with children under 16 years old in an attempt to convince the children to send him sexual photographs. On two occasions, BOWLES was successful, convincing minors to produce and send to him photographs depicting their genitals. FBI agents were able to identify the victims and confirm their interactions with BOWLES.
Mr. Higdon commented: “I want to commend the FBI and the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. for their quick action and effective work targeting the defendant’s dangerous and predatory conduct. Their work saved many young people unspeakable anguish. We are also mindful of the harm to the actual victims who were identified in this investigation. The Court’s sentence recognized that harm and, we hope, will be a part of the healing process for these vulnerable victims.”
This case is part of the Project Safe Childhood initiative, a national program aimed at ensuring that criminals exploiting children are effectively prosecuted by making full use of all available law enforcement resources at every level. For more information about this important national initiative, go to www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Raleigh Police Department, the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Melissa Belle Kessler and Jake D. Pugh represented the government.