McLean Man Sentenced for Child Pornography Crimes
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A McLean man was sentenced today to five years in prison for collecting tens of thousands of images and videos of child pornography since 2004.
“For the last 12 years Seth Thornton visited depraved corners of the Internet to hunt for images and videos of young girls being sexually exploited and abused,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “It is beyond dispute that child pornography trafficking crimes are grievous offenses that deserve serious penalties. The distribution and receipt of child pornography fuels a market for further production and abuse, while continuing the victimization of children depicted in the images. While these crimes can be very difficult to talk about, we must continue to bring awareness to these prosecutions with the goal of protecting our children from sexual predators by deterring others from committing similar crimes, online and elsewhere.”
Seth Aaron Thornton, 43, pleaded guilty on Nov. 2, 2016. According to court documents, Thornton, an information technology consultant who has worked for prominent consulting companies as well as the federal government, had been using peer-to-peer networks to amass a collection of tens of thousands of images and videos of minor girls, primarily aged approximately 8 to 14 years old, though many featured even younger children. Some child exploitation files in Thornton’s collection depicted sadistic, masochistic, or other violent imagery.
“Child pornography, in any form, haunts its victims for their entire lifetime,” said Patrick J. Lechleitner, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. “Our special agents are dedicated to identifying and investigating individuals who prey on children, and we will ensure they’re prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Patrick J. Lechleitner, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C., made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton. Assistant U.S. Attorney Maya D. Song and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney James E. Burke IV prosecuted the case.
This case is 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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the 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 www.justice.gov/psc.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:16-cr-246.
Updated March 24, 2017
Project Safe Childhood