SPOKANE – Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Joshua Nicholas Higgins, age 25, of Phillipsburg, New Jersey, was sentenced today after having previously pleaded guilty of Production of Child Pornography. Senior United States District Court Judge Wm. Fremming Nielsen sentenced Higgins to a fifteen year term of imprisonment, to be followed by a life term of court supervision after he is released from Federal prison. Higgins is required to register as a sex offender. At today’s sentencing hearing Judge Nielsen described Higgins as a predator, whose conduct warranted the lengthy sentence and the life time of supervision.
According to information disclosed during the court proceedings, in October 2012, Higgins, a New Jersey resident, began communicating electronically and through Skype with a young teenage girl in Kennewick, Washington. Higgins enticed the girl to engage in sexual acts, and images of those acts were transmitted from Washington State to New Jersey over the Internet. In May 2013, Higgins moved to Kennewick and had sexual intercourse with the young girl numerous times. Additional pornographic images of the girl were produced and transmitted electronically. Higgins was arrested in August 2013 and admitted his criminal conduct.
Michael C. Ormsby said, “The safety of our children is paramount to safe communities in the Eastern District of Washington. Prosecuting criminals who produce, distribute, and / or possess child pornography is a priority for the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Washington. My Office, together with its Federal and state law enforcement partners, is and will continue to be committed to investigating, prosecuting, and seeking appropriate punishment for child pornography crimes.”
This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the United States Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.
The Project Safe Childhood Initiative (“PSC”) has five major components:
- Integrated federal, state, and local efforts to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases, and to identify and rescue children;
- Participation of PSC partners in coordinated national initiatives;
- Increased federal enforcement in child pornography and enticement cases;
- Training of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents; and
- Community awareness and educational programs.
For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc . For information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."
This investigation was conducted by the Kennewick Police Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Ian L. Garriques, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.