Jacksonville, Florida – United States District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan has sentenced Charles Cory Thornton (38, Yulee) to 23 years in federal prison for using hidden cameras to produce pornographic images and videos of four children. Thornton was also sentenced to serve a lifetime term of supervised release, and ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution to the victims of his offenses.
Thornton had pleaded guilty on November 3, 2017, and has been in custody since his arrest on July 27, 2017.
According to court documents, on July 20, 2017, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Thornton’s residence based on suspected online child exploitation activity. When interviewed, Thornton admitted that he had been searching for child pornography online since 2012, and that he was sexually attracted to children. FBI agents seized several cameras and other computer media from Thornton’s residence. Forensic analyses of these items revealed that from January 2007 through August 2010, Thornton had produced at least 88 videos of four different children while they changed clothes in the bathrooms of two different residences in Florida and Virginia. Thornton surreptitiously recorded these videos using tiny cameras he had hidden in different spots in the bathrooms. Thornton admitted that his ultimate goal was to capture close-up, explicit footage of the children, then transfer the videos to his computer for his own sexual gratification.
A forensic examination of Thornton’s computer also revealed that he had used the internet to download, collect, and make available for sharing approximately 800,000 images and 9,400 videos depicting the sexual abuse of children, some as young as two years of age.
“The FBI Jacksonville Division is committed to protecting children in this community,” said Carlton L. Peeples, Assistant Special Agent in Charge. “This case is just one example of our tireless efforts to identify predators and seek justice for their innocent victims.”
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.
It is another case 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 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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.