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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Alabama

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Repeat Child Sex Offender Sentenced to Over 10 Years in Prison for Possession of Child Pornography

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A federal judge today sentenced a previously convicted sex offender for possession of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger.

U.S District Court Judge Annemarie C. Axon sentenced Michael Edward Horton, 52, of Bessemer, to 135 months in prison to be followed by supervised release for life.  On October 13, 2021, Horton pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography.

“Possession of child pornography is an intolerable crime that victimizes the most vulnerable,” U.S. Attorney Escalona said. “We are grateful for the collaborative efforts of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to stop this repeat child predator.”

“Whenever one of these images is shared or viewed it victimizes an innocent child all over again, making it extremely difficult for the victim to recover.” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “Stopping those who delight in and distribute this filth is one of the most important missions HSI has.”

According to the plea agreement, in March 2020, law enforcement received several cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that images of child pornography had been uploaded to an Instagram account registered to Horton. In April 2020, a state search warrant was obtained for Horton’s residence and agents seized two cell phones.  During a forensic review of one of Horton’s cell phones, 95 images and 28 videos of children being sexually exploited were identified.  Horton stated that his exchange of child pornography began in late 2019 and was primarily conducted through Instagram, Wickr, Telegram, and Tumblr.  Horton had previously been convicted of Sexual Abuse First-Degree of a child in 1998 in the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Alabama.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case, along with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and Bessemer Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys  R. Leann White and Daniel McBrayer prosecuted the case.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated January 11, 2022