Fort Myers, Florida – U.S. District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell yesterday sentenced Brian Robert Harling (58, Fort Myers) to 20 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography. The Court also ordered him to forfeit five thumb drives that he had used to store his collection of child pornography.
Harling was found guilty by a federal jury on December 3, 2014.
According to the testimony presented at trial, on July 4, 2013, a new tenant discovered three thumb drives belonging to Harling that had fallen from molding inside of a closet, at a condo where Harling previously had lived. Harling had moved from the condo on July 1, 2013. The tenant and her mother discovered child pornography on the thumb drives and contacted the police. On July 4, 2013, a Fort Myers Police officer met with the tenant to retrieve the located thumb drives, and located two additional thumb drives that had also been concealed on the ledge of the molding inside the closet. Ultimately, the police located approximately 3,000 images and approximately 35 videos depicting child pornography on these thumb drives.
"Unfortunately, every time a photo or a video of an innocent child being sexually exploited is viewed, that victim is violated again,” said Susan L. McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. “We owe it to the children affected by these cases to work tirelessly to seek out these predators and ultimately bring them to justice.”
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Fort Myers Police Department, with assistance from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Cape Coral Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Yolande G. Viacava.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. 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 locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.