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Justice News

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

Friday, January 10, 2014

Smith County Man Sentenced For Sexual Exploitation Of Children

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

TYLER, Texas – A 38-year-old Tyler man has been sentenced to 45 years in federal prison for child exploitation violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Mark Rushton Lawless pleaded guilty on Sep. 5, 2013 to possession of child pornography, transportation of a child to engage in sexual activity, production of child pornography, and aggravated sexual abuse of a child.  Lawless was sentenced to 45 years in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider.

According to information presented in court, on Feb. 12, 2013, Lawless was found in possession of child pornography, specifically material involving a child younger than 12 years old engaged in sexually explicit conduct.  Lawless admitted that on Dec. 28, 2012, he transported a minor across state lines for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity and sexually abusing a child younger than 12 years of age.  Lawless also admitted that on Jan. 2, 2013, he enticed or coerced a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of creating child pornography.  Lawless was indicted on Feb. 27, 2013 and charged with child pornography violations.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

                This case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Secret Service, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Tyler Police Department.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gregg Marchessault and Mandy Griffith and Michael Grant of the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.
Updated March 12, 2015