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Press Release

Columbia Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for the Fourth Time for Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. — David Elliott Paulsen, 62, of Columbia, was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to possession of child sexual abuse materials.*

Evidence presented to the court showed that in May 2023, Paulsen entered a residential reentry center to complete the remaining period of his incarceration from a 2014 conviction of possession of child sex abuse materials. Shortly thereafter, on July 13, 2023, Paulsen was found to be in possession of a contraband phone that contained over 1,200 images and at least one video of child sex abuse materials involving prepubescent girls and the sexual abuse of toddlers.

Paulsen has three prior federal convictions for possession of child sex abuse materials as well as one prior conviction for failure to register as a sex offender.

United States District Court Judge Joseph Anderson sentenced Paulsen to 168 months in prison to be followed by a lifetime court-ordered supervision. There is no parole in the federal system.

The case was investigated by the FBI Columbia Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elle E. Klein is prosecuting the case.


* The term “child pornography” is currently used in federal statutes and is defined as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a person less than 18 years old. While this phrase still appears in federal law, “child sexual abuse material” is preferred, as it better reflects the abuse that is depicted in the images and videos and the resulting trauma to the child


Veronica Hill, Public Affairs Specialist,, (803) 929-3000

Updated March 29, 2024

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