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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Minnesota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Registered Sex Offender Sentenced To Nearly 40 Years In Prison For Producing Child Pornography

Defendant used fake social media accounts to prey on more than 200 minors in two months

United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald announced the sentencing of ZACHARY JAMES WITRY, 29, to 472 months in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for production of child pornography. WITRY, who pleaded guilty on April 17, 2019, was sentenced yesterday before Judge Nancy E. Brasel in United States District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota. When announcing the sentence, Judge Brasel commented that Mr. Witry’s goal was to meet teenage girls and to rape them. She further expressed concern with his escalating criminal conduct, his inability to comply with previous court supervision for similar child exploitation offenses, and the manipulative tactics that he used to get what he wanted from the minor victims.

United States Attorney Erica MacDonald stated, “The defendant, a registered sex offender, has a history of preying on young victims. I thank the Court for recognizing his extreme danger to our children and sentencing him accordingly.”

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed with the court, WITRY used various social media platforms such as SnapChat and MeetMe to created fake accounts and profiles, including posing as a 15-year-old boy, to make contact with teenage girls ranging from 13 to 17 years old. WITRY engaged in extensive grooming of his victims and solicited multiple sexually explicit videos and photographs from minor girls. In a two month period in March and April 2017, WITRY made contact with over 210 minor girls with the goal of obtaining sexually explicit images. WITRY met three of the minors in person and sexually assaulted each of them. WITRY exchanged approximately 1,665 text messages with one of the minors and, prior to soliciting sexually explicit photographs from her, WITRY told the minor that he loved her, wanted to marry her, and have children with her.

WITRY has two previous state court convictions for solicitation of a child, one in Sherburne County in 2012, and one in Wright County in 2015.

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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

This case was the result of an investigation conducted by the Shakopee Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Angela M. Munoz-Kaphing and Alexander D. Chiquoine prosecuted the case.

 

Defendant Information:

ZACHARY JAMES WITRY, 29

Buffalo, Minn.

Convicted:

  • Child pornography, 1 count

Sentenced:

  • 472 months in prison
  • Lifetime of supervised release

 

 

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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Component(s): 
Updated August 20, 2019