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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

Monday, April 24, 2017

Perry County Husband And Wife Charged With Production Of Child Pornography

HARRISBURG - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that a Perry County couple were indicted on April 19, 2017, by a federal grand jury in Harrisburg on production of child pornography charges.


The indictment was unsealed on April 21, 2017. Chief Magistrate Judge Susan E. Schwab arraigned Betty Jo Eckenberger on April 20, 2017, and James David Eckenberger on April 24, 2017. Both Defendants were detained.


According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Betty Jo Eckenberger, age 32, and James David Eckenberger, age 43, both of Perry County, Pennsylvania, are alleged to have sexually assaulted a minor between 2008 and 2011, and taken photographs of that assault. The four-count indictment charges the Eckenbergers with conspiracy to use a minor to produce child pornography, production of child pornography, receipt and ditribution of child pornography, and possession of child pornography. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of all electronic equipment used to take those images.


This case was investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney James T. Clancy is prosecuting the case.


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 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 For more information about internet safety education, please visit and click on the tab "resources."


Indictments are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.


A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.


The maximum penalty under federal law for the production of child pornography offenses is 50 years’ imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine. Those charges carry a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 25 years. The possession of child pornography charge is punishable by a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. That charge carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.


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Updated April 25, 2017