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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 18, 2021

Former Schoolteacher From Cary Sentenced to 12 Years On Child Pornography Charges

NEW BERN, N.C. – Chip Hollingsworth of Cary, North Carolina, was sentenced today to 144 months in prison after pleading guilty to eleven counts charging receipt and possession of child pornography.   

According to court documents and statements made in court, in summer 2018, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was conducting an undercover investigation on the chat and file sharing platform called, “Gigatribe.”  On August 6, 2018, an unknown user contacted the undercover investigator, transmitted child pornography, and requested images of 10-12-year-old boys in recorded conversations.  After obtaining account information from Gigatribe and an internet service provider, law enforcement identified the user as the defendant Chip Hollingsworth at a residence in Cary, North Carolina.  Law enforcement further determined that Hollingsworth had been employed as an elementary school teacher.    

On August 20, 2018, members of the FBI and Cary Police Department executed a federal search warrant at Hollingsworth’s residence.  He agreed to be interviewed and admitted to having a Gigatribe account, with which he obtained, viewed, and shared child pornography. 

Officers seized multiple electronic devices and conducted a forensic examination. Nearly 1,500 images and videos were found that constitute child pornography, the majority depicting children under 12.  File metadata showed that Hollingsworth had received  the files on dates from as early as August 29, 2008 to July 21, 2018. 

United States Attorney Higdon commented “We are grateful for the sentence handed down by the Court today.  As I have repeatedly said, the sexual exploitation of the most vulnerable among us – our children – is one of the worst offenses we are working to stop in communities all across the Eastern District.  Each of these cases is heartbreaking and each requires a strong response if we are to punish and, most importantly, deter others who may harm our children in the future.  This offender is particularly concerning because of his role as a teacher.  This sentence ensures that he will be held accountable and will not harm children in the future.  And we hope this message goes out to others that this type of crime must stop.”

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.

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Cary Police Department investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jake D. Pugh prosecuted the case.

Related court documents and information are located on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:19-cr-0231-FL.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated February 18, 2021