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Press Release

Berea man charged after he allegedly contacted several children between the ages of 12 and 15 and coerced them into sending him sexually explicit images

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio

Cody Swinnerton, 24, of Berea, was charged in federal court with sexual exploitation of children and receipt of child pornography after he allegedly contacted several children between the ages of 12 and 15 and coerced them into sending him sexually explicit images.

According to an affidavit in the case:

The Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received a tip that Swinnerton appeared to be enticing and coercing minors to produce sexually explicit images. Swinnerton controlled multiple accounts and targeted minors between the ages of 12 and 15 on Instagram and Facebook.

Swinnerton contacted the victims’ friends and family to coerce the victims into producing more images. He also threatened the victims in an effort to get them to produce sexually explicit images. Further investigation revealed potential victims in Ohio, Tennessee, Iowa, Texas, Australia, Austria and France.

A search warrant was executed at the home where Swinnerton lives in Berea on January 25. Relatives said Swinnerton was on vacation in Australia at the time. A review of his computer revealed several images of child pornography.

“This case demonstrates how predators will target our children over social media,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said. “Parents and trusted adults need to make it their business to know who their kids are communicating with. We will continue to work with law enforcement agencies to prosecute these predators.”

“This case is a disturbing reminder that international borders are no longer a hindrance for online predators,” said Steve Francis, special agent in charge of HSI for Michigan and Ohio. “However, this arrest should assure victims around the world that Homeland Security Investigations and our partners in the international law enforcement community are committed to aggressively targeting those engaged in these heinous acts.”

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violations.  In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.

This investigation is being conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, HSI-Canberra, the Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol M. Skutnik.

A charge is only an allegation  and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Contact

Mike Tobin
216.622.3651
michael.tobin@usdoj.gov

Updated February 19, 2019

Topic
Project Safe Childhood