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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

San Diego Rancher Sentenced for Possession and Distribution of Child Pornography

Assistant U. S. Attorney Renee Green (619) 546-6775    

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – February 13, 2018

SAN DIEGO – Christian Clews, the operator of a Carmel Valley horse ranch, was sentenced in federal court today to 210 months in prison for possessing and distributing photographs and videos that depicted children engaged in sexually explicit activity with adults and dogs.

Clews, who pleaded guilty in July but remained free on bond, was immediately taken into custody at the conclusion of the hearing. U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw also sentenced Clews to 25 years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term.

During today’s hearing, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Renee Green told the court that during a search of the defendant’s computer, federal agents recovered over 800 images and 600 videos of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.  As detailed in the plea agreement, the images and videos included prepubescent boys and girls engaged in a variety of sexual acts.  SAUSA Green said Clews’ conduct was not limited to only possession and distribution of child pornography but included repeated sexual victimization of minors for over two decades. SAUSA Green noted that the victims were intimidated for years and finally found the strength to come forward and talk to law enforcement about Clews.   

Judge Sabraw described the case as “extraordinary” because Clews’ pattern of activity involved the abuse and exploitation of minors over the course of 25 years. The Court noted that individuals writing letters of support for Clews were likely “not informed” as to Clews’ true conduct in this case. The Court described Clews as having “another side that’s very dark, very predatory, plain and simple.” Judge Sabraw described Clews’ behavior as a “longstanding campaign of predatory conduct,” wherein Clews used his position at the ranch to abuse vulnerable victims. In pronouncing his judgment, Judge Sabraw stated, “There has to be a consequence to that conduct; there has to be a day of accounting.”

“The production of child pornography creates a permanent record of a child’s sexual abuse, and these victims often suffer a lifetime of re-victimization in knowing the images of their worst nightmare are forever memorialized on the Internet,” said U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman. “We are heartened by today’s strong sentence because it ensures that a man who contributed to the victimization of children is out of commission for many years.”

“Today’s sentencing of Christian Clews sends a very strong message to child predators who seek to exploit young victims. HSI is committed to working with the San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and federal prosecutors to protect children from sexual predators. Investigating these crimes requires a local, national and international commitment and a multi-agency approach of dedicated law enforcement personnel,” said James Plitt, Deputy Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in San Diego. “HSI will continue to assist our law enforcement partners, in particular bringing our transnational investigative authorities to these investigations and prosecutions.”

This case was investigated by the San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations. The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program is a national network representing over 4,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies, all working to combat the sexual exploitation of children through the internet.

DEFENDANT                                               Criminal Case No. 17CR0145-DMS

Christian Clews          Age: 52                      San Diego, CA


Title 18, United States Code, Section 2252(a)(2), Distribution of Images of Minors Engaged in                 Sexually Explicit Conduct

Title 18, United States Code, Section 2252(a)(4), Possession of Images of Minors Engaged in                   Sexually Explicit Conduct

Maximum penalties: 20 years in prison (with a mandatory 5 years’ prison for the Distribution count); $250,000 fine; Mandatory Special Assessments of $100 and $5,000 per count; Restitution; Forfeiture


San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force

Homeland Security Investigations





Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 
Updated February 13, 2018