Former Youth Minister Pleads Guilty In Federal Court To Child Pornography Offense
Defendant Worked at Churches in Levelland and Lubbock
LUBBOCK, Texas --- Trevor Jacob Fortner, 25, of Lubbock, Texas, appeared in federal court in Lubbock, Texas, this morning, before U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings, and pleaded guilty to a one-count indictment charging attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
The statutory maximum penalty for this offense is 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and a lifetime of supervised release. However, according to plea documents filed in the case, Fortner and the government will make a non-binding recommendation to the Court that a 48-month sentence is appropriate. Today, Judge Cummings ordered a presentence investigation report with a sentencing date to be set after the completion of that report. Fortner will remain on bond pending sentencing.
Most recently, Fortner was a youth minister at a church in Levelland, Texas; he has also worked in the graphics department of a church in Lubbock.
According to documents filed in the case, on May 7, 2013, Fortner responded to an online personal advertisement that had been posted by an undercover officer with the Lubbock Police Department (LPD). Posing as a 15-year-old girl, the undercover officer responded to Fortner’s initial contact. During ensuing emails and text conversations between Fortner and the undercover officer, Fortner repeatedly affirmed that he understood the girl’s age.
During these text conversations, Fortner discussed meeting the minor girl and described the kind of sexual activity he wished to engage in with her. He asked her to send him “kinky pics” and “dirty pics,” and on May 7, 2013, he sent her a sexually explicit photograph of himself. The following day, Fortner was interviewed by LPD officers and he admitted communicating with a 15-year-old girl and sending her a photograph of himself, which he acknowledged was obscene.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative, which was launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice, to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s 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 sexually exploit children, and identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/. For more information about internet safety education, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/ and click on the tab “resources.”
The case is being investigated by the FBI, the LPD and the LPD’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda R. Burch is in charge of the prosecution.