Former UNK Psychology Professor Sentenced for Possessing Child Pornography
United States Attorney Deborah R. Gilg announced that Joseph J. Benz, 56, currently of Kearney, Nebraska, was sentenced on September 7, 2016, in Lincoln, Nebraska, to 5 years of probation by United States Senior District Judge Richard G. Kopf, for possession of child pornography. In addition to serving probation, Benz was ordered to pay $9,999.00 in restitution to the numerous victims whose abuse was documented in the child pornography and that law enforcement was able to identify. Benz will also be required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life.
In March of 2013, investigators with the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office became aware of a computer with a specific IP address that was identified as a potential download source of files containing child pornography. Through further investigation it was determined that the IP was assigned to Benz at his residence in Kearney, Nebraska. Between March and May of 2013, investigators were able to receive more than 6,000 child pornography files from Benz’s computer. Further investigation later determined that Benz had been downloading the child pornography since at least 2008.
A search warrant was obtained and executed at Benz’s residence and during the search, investigators observed a computer that was actively running and downloading child pornography. The items seized during the search warrant were forensically examined at the Attorney General's computer lab, and over 20,000 video and image files of child pornography were identified. Benz had also copied the child pornography to a number of external hard drives and flash drives.
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 United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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 investigated by the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office.