Travis J. Varble, 42, has been sentenced to more than 33 years in federal prison and a lifetime
term of supervised release for live streaming the sexual abuse of a child, United States Attorney
Steven D. Weinhoeft announced today.
“It is difficult to imagine much that is more reprehensible than molesting a child, but Mr. Varble
found a way to aggravate his deviance by live streaming the abuse over the internet for other
depraved individuals to view. This case highlights the fact that child pornography isn’t a crime
involving anonymous images on the internet. Rather, each image represents a real person, a child,
being overpowered by an adult who knows better. And we will prosecute these cases as aggressively
as the law allows,” said US Attorney Steve Weinhoeft.
Varble was caught after law enforcement officials in Auburn, Ala. conducting an unrelated
investigation discovered a recorded video containing child pornography. The perpetrator and child
victim depicted in the video were unidentified, so officers forwarded the evidence to the National
Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in an effort to identify the victim and/or
assailant depicted in the video.
NCMEC is supported by a number of law enforcement partners, including Homeland Security
Investigations (HSI), which is the criminal investigative arm of U.S. Immigration & Customs
Enforcement (ICE). ICE, through HSI, operates the National Child Victim Identification System
(NCVIS). The NCVIS uses advanced analytics to identify and rescue child victims as well as identify
and prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), investigated the video recovered in Auburn, Ala. and found
evidence suggesting that the sexual abuse may have taken place in Southern Illinois. HSI
investigators in St. Louis were assigned and determined that the perpetrator was Travis Varble, of
Alton, Ill. HSI also discovered a second video of Varble sexually abusing the same child. HSI
learned that Varble live streamed his sexual abuse while the exploitation occurred, and
that others viewing the live stream recorded the abuse and further distributed the recorded videos
on the internet.
Evidence at sentencing established that the victim was under the age of 12, and that Varble
had been providing care to the child at the time when the abuse took place.
US Attorney Steve Weinhoeft said, “We praise the work done by Homeland Security Investigations
(HSI) and their National Child Victim Identification System (NCVIS) for their efforts on this
particular case, and for their ongoing effort to rescue child victims and identify those who commit
these awful crimes.”
During the investigation, agents learned that Varble had been separately prosecuted in Madison
County, Ill., for sexually abusing same victim. Varble was sentenced to a 17-year prison sentence
in Danville Correctional Center for predatory criminal sexual assault of a victim under 13 and
aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim under 13 in the state court prosecution.
Varble was indicted federally in the United States District Court for the Southern District of
Illinois on March 21, 2018, for two counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor (Counts 1 and 2) and
one count of Distribution of Child Pornography (Count 3). He pleaded guilty on January 17, 2019,
and was sentenced on August 1, 2019, to 398 months in federal prison, which is to be followed by a
lifetime term of supervised release on each count.
United States District Court Judge Staci M. Yandle handed down the sentence. The sentence she
imposed was initially calculated at 444 months; however, Judge Yandle gave Varble credit for 46
months that he had already served in state prison for related criminal conduct, thereby resulting
in a 398-month sentence. The federal prison term was ordered to run concurrently with the state
sentence Varble is currently serving.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May
2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and
abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation
and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to
locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and
rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc.
For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on
the tab “resources.”
The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security
Investigations. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Angela Scott.