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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 5, 2018

Former Liberty University Student and Raleigh Native Sentenced to 26 Years for the Manufacture of Child Pornography

NEW BERN – United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that today in federal court, United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced JUSTIN COLE MILAM, 22, from Raleigh to 312 months in prison, a lifetime of supervision upon release and a $4,000.00 fine for the Manufacture of Child Pornography (CP).  MILAM pled guilty to the charge on October 12, 2017.

In June 2015, Google, Inc. (Google) reported a violation related to child pornography (CP) to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).  Google identified an email account, which was responsible for the upload of at least one video file depicting CP.  The email account was identified as belonging to a registered sex offender, residing in Carpinteria, California. A search of his residence uncovered a smartphone which contained approximately 1,500 images and videos of CP.  He acknowledged using the smartphone to access the aforementioned email account. Moreover, he acknowledged using the smartphone to store and distribute CP.

Forensic examination of the device revealed that he used, a mobile instant messenger application which utilizes an internet connection to transmit and receive messages, photos, videos, and other content transmitted through the program. The service also allows users to register for a user account without providing a telephone number and prevents users from being located on the service through any information other than their chosen user name. The examination uncovered evidence that the convicted sex offender utilized his account to exchange CP with other users.  One such account was identified as belonging to MILAM. The examination further revealed that 77 messages were exchanged between the convicted sex offender and MILAM.  Further analysis of the IP connectivity logs revealed that MILAM logged into his account on multiple dates and times from different IP addresses.  One of the login IP addresses was identified as being directly associated with Liberty University (LU) in Lynchburg, Virginia.  Continued investigation confirmed that MILAM was enrolled as a student in Liberty University during the timeframe of the offense established during the investigation.

Based on the investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Raleigh, North Carolina, executed a search of MILAM’s residence on January 12, 2017.  At the time of the search, MILAM provided an unprotected statement to authorities acknowledging that the email address used to exchange CP was his.  Additionally, MILAM acknowledged he began trading CP approximately two years earlier.  MILAM collected CP over time and periodically deleted his collection only to begin recollecting CP again.  After locating a user account of others wishing to trade CP, MILAM initiated a conversation with the user prior to trading CP. MILAM acknowledged having images of CP on his smartphone to include images of toddlers being sexually abused. MILAM’s smartphone was seized and a preliminary on-site examination revealed evidence of CP which had been saved on an external hard drive.  The external hard drive was found in MILAM’s bedroom and also revealed images of CP.

Forensic examination of the item uncovered approximately 986 images and 117 videos of CP.  Several of the images portrayed sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence.  Additionally, approximately 69 images and 1 video depicted the sexual abuse of infants/toddlers.

As the investigation progressed, agents recovered numerous chat conversations between MILAM and other users in which CP was exchanged and the sexual abuse of children discussed.  More than 130 user accounts were identified as receiving or sharing CP with MILAM.  Of the 130 accounts discovered, 51 of the users were identified as being located in the United States.  The investigation uncovered multiple pornographic images of minors sent directly to MILAM at his request. During multiple chat conversations with minors, MILAM requested they create and send pornographic images of themselves performing sexual acts.  As the investigation progressed, agents identified 10 minors who forwarded MILAM pornographic images and/or videos of themselves at the request of MILAM.

Based on the investigation, MILAM used an internet messenger service to request multiple minors between the ages of 13 and 17 to create and distribute CP.  At his request, at least 10 identified minors forwarded pornographic images of themselves to MILAM.  In return, MILAM knowingly distributed CP to the minors. As such, MILAM used a computer or an interactive service to persuade, induce, and entice a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct.  Because MILAM engaged in a pattern of activity involving prohibited sexual conduct, the production of CP, on at least two or more occasions with multiple minors, he is classified as a repeat and dangerous sex offender against minors.

 Mr. Higdon commented: “Today the Court imposed a 26 year sentence on a defendant who preyed upon numerous of our most vulnerable citizens.  Through the manufacture and collection and distribution of child pornography the defendant victimized our children in the most degrading and base way.  The sentence imposed by the court is extremely appropriate and should be a warning to others who would threaten our children in this way.  We will seek sentences like this and other cases in our unwavering effort to stop this type of behavior and to protect our children.  I want to thank the investigators with the FBI and with the Raleigh Police Department for their outstanding work.”

The case was investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Raleigh Police Department.  The federal prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Ethan A. Ontjes.

This case was 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 project, Project Safe Childhood, go to www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated April 5, 2018