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Press Release

Level-2 Sex Offender Sentenced to Decade in Prison for Possessing Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant previously convicted of assault to rape

BOSTON – A Chelsea man was sentenced yesterday for possessing child sexual abuse material (CSAM). 

Lasall Johnson, 55, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin to 10 years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release. In March 2024, Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography. 

“Mr. Johnson’s incredibly dangerous predatory actions perpetuated the exploitation and abuse of the most vulnerable members of our society. The sentence imposed not only removes a threat from our communities but also sends a clear and unequivocal message to other potential offenders that possessing child sexual abuse material comes with grave and severe consequences,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “Possessing child pornography is far from a victimless crime. Each image and video represents a real child who has been horrifically victimized, and consuming and distributing this material contributes to a cycle of abuse that leaves lasting scars on victims. Our office remains steadfastly committed to protecting children from such predators. This sentence is a reflection of our unwavering dedication to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our communities, particularly the children who depend on us for protection.”

“Johnson secretly hoarded hundreds of images depicting the sexual abuse of innocent children until HSI investigators discovered that he shared those horrific images on a file sharing network available to users who sought them out. This sentence ensures that our communities are safer with him in federal prison,” said Michael J. Krol, Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations in New England. “HSI works tirelessly to bring to justice those who possess and distribute child sexual abuse imagery. Each image immortalizes the trauma of a child and we will do everything possible to stop the consumers who create the demand for this abuse.”

In or about June 2021, an investigation into a peer-to-peer file sharing program identified Johnson as the owner of an IP address distributing large quantities of CSAM files. On more than 85 occasions ranging from approximately June 2021 to April 2022, that IP address was offering to share suspected CSAM torrent files. During a search of Johnson’s rented bedroom, six electronic devices were seized including three cellphones, two thumb drives and an electronic tablet. A subsequent forensic analysis located approximately 341 image and video files depicting the sexual abuse of children across three of the seized devices, including files depicting victims as young as four years old. 

In 1989, Johnson was convicted in Norfolk County Superior Court of two counts of assault to rape, for which he received a 20-year state prison sentence with two years committed and the balance suspended for 18 years. As a result of those convictions, Johnson is a Level-2 registered sex offender. 

Acting U.S. Attorney Levy, HSI SAC Krol and Chelsea Police Chief Keith Houghton made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Sullivan Jacobus of the Major Crimes Unit prosecuted the case.

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 the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit https://www.justice.gov/psc.

Updated June 6, 2024

Topic
Project Safe Childhood