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Justice News

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

Friday, March 15, 2013

Jury: Cahokia Man Guilty Of Child Pornography Offenses

A Cahokia man was found guilty on March 14, 2013, after a 3 day jury trial, for 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, Cahokia, IL, faces a term of not less than fifteen years but not more than thirty years in prison on Count 1; on Count 2, Hicks faces a term of not less than five but not more than twenty years in prison; and, on Count 3, Hicks faces a term of not more than ten years in prison. Additionally, each count of conviction carries a potential fine up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of five (5) years to life. Upon his release from prison, Hicks must register as a sex offender as a condition of his supervised release. Sentencing is scheduled for June 28, 2013, in East St. Louis, Illinois. Hicks was ordered detained (held without bond) after the jury’s verdict.

On January 14, 2011, 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 were able to make contact with Hicks at his mother’s house in Belleville, Illinois. While speaking with him, agents learned that he had two computers stored at his mother’s residence, one of them a HP Pavilion desktop computer. A forensic preview at the scene revealed images of child pornography on the HP computer.

While Hicks initially denied downloading child pornography, he admitted to using search terms on LimeWire that he knew would result in child pornography files that he was able to download. 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 on this computer, and that the forensic evidence was consistent with Hicks being the person who downloaded and possessed the images. It also revealed that on April 3, 2008, Hicks knowingly downloaded several image and video files from LimeWire that he knew contained child pornography.

The investigation further revealed that, on August 1, 2008, Hicks took two pornographic photographs of a minor 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. The evidence at trial established that Hicks had persuaded or coerced the minor to engage in sexual activity for the purposes of photographing it.

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 is assigned to Special Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Brooks and Assistant United States Attorney Angela Scott.

Updated February 19, 2015