Cahokia Man Sentenced For Child Pornography Offenses
A Cahokia man was sentenced on April 24, 2014, on a three-count superseding indictment charging Production of Child Pornography (Count 1), Receipt of Child Pornography (Count 2), and Possession of Child Pornography (Count 3), the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Charles E. Hicks, 24, was sentenced to a total term of 180 months in federal prison, to be followed by a 10 year term of supervised release. In addition, upon his release from prison, Hicks must register as a sex offender as a condition of his supervised release. Finally, Hicks agreed to pay $500 in restitution to each of the victims in the “Vicky” and “J_Blonde” child pornography series. Hicks has been detained (held without bond) since he was found guilty by a jury on March 14, 2013.
“Anyone who thinks these cases are merely about people looking at dirty pictures should read about how the child victims of this severe physical and psychological abuse suffer each and every day for the rest of their lives. My office will continue to seek appropriate prison sentences for those who would abuse children.” noted United States Attorney Wigginton.
The investigation that led to the offenses for which Hicks was ultimately sentenced began on January 14, 2011, when an undercover operation conducted by a member of the United States Secret Service=s Southern Illinois Cyber Crime Unit identified a computer that was offering to share images and videos of child pornography. The agent downloaded three images of child pornography from this computer, and later obtained a subpoena to identify the subscriber information related to this computer. The subscriber information identified Hicks’ residence as the location of the computer from which the images of child pornography were downloaded. Agents obtained a federal search warrant to search the residence. Hicks was not at home, but the agents were able to make contact with him at his mother’s house in Belleville, Illinois. While speaking with him, agents learned that Hicks had two computers stored at his mother’s residence, one of them a HP Pavilion desktop computer. Hicks gave written consent to search both computers. A forensic preview at the scene revealed images of child pornography on the HP computer.
Hicks eventually admitted that he had been downloading child pornography for about two to three years, but that he only did so in the hope that law enforcement officers would track him down so they could find the person making the images available.
A forensic examination performed on the HP Pavilion desktop computer revealed 159 images and 130 video files of child pornography were present on this computer, and that the forensic evidence was consistent with Hicks as the person who downloaded and possessed the images. It also revealed that on April 3, 2008, Hicks downloaded several image and video files from LimeWire that he knew contained child pornography.
The investigation also revealed that, on August 1, 2008, Hicks took two pornographic photographs of TH knowing that he/she was 16 years old at the time. One of the photographs depicted Hicks engaged in sexual intercourse with the minor. The other photograph was of the lascivious display of the minor=s genitals.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 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 Illinois State Police and United States Secret Service=s Southern Illinois Cyber Crime Unit. The case was assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Angela Scott.