Former Montana man sentenced to 19 years in prison for sexually exploiting numerous children, including two Montana victims, through online activity
GREAT FALLS — A former Montana man, currently of Arizona, who admitted to coercing minor girls in Montana to send him sexually explicit images of themselves through the internet and to receiving child pornography was sentenced today to 19 years in prison to be followed by 10 years of supervised release, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.
Joshua Dean Fish, 27, formerly of Helena and currently of Gilbert, Arizona, pleaded guilty on June 9 to two counts of sexual exploitation of a child and to receipt of child pornography.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided. Restitution is pending a later hearing.
“Fish communicated directly with children through the internet to coerce them into sending him sexually explicit images of themselves. Many parents and guardians have little ability to monitor these kinds of communications. Anyone who exploits children in this way is an extreme danger to our children and a substantial threat to the community and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I want to thank Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee L. Peterson and the investigative agencies in Montana and Arizona for their work on this case,” Acting U.S. Attorney Johnson said.
The government alleged in court documents and in statements in court that in January 2020, the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office received a report of online sexually explicit activity involving two children, who were under the age of 18. An investigation identified Fish as offering to pay for the sexually explicit images. Prior to mid-2018, Fish resided in Montana. The two Montana child victims, one in Butte and another in Helena, reported that an online user promised monetary digital payments in exchange for nude images that would be sent through the internet. Both child victims sent Fish sexually explicit images of themselves.
The government further alleged that an investigation by Arizona law enforcement into a Cybertip to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children involving sending and receiving child pornography through a social media application led to Fish. In June 2020, law enforcement searched Fish’s residence. Fish admitted to law enforcement that he paid minor girls for nude images, which were sent to him online, and to possessing numerous hard drives containing child pornography. An examination of digital devices seized during the search found hundreds of thousands of images and video files of child pornography. The examiner determined that Fish received many of these files while living in Montana from 2012 to 2018.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee L. Peterson prosecuted the case, which was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Gilbert (Arizona) Police Department.
This case was initiated under the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood initiative, which was launched in 2006 to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children. Through a network of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and advocacy organizations, Project Safe Childhood attempts to protect children by investigating and prosecuting offenders involved in child sexual exploitation. It is implemented through partnerships including the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The ICAC Task Force Program was created to assist state and local law enforcement agencies by enhancing their investigative response to technology facilitated crimes against children.