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Justice News

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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hogsett Announces Child Pornography Charges Against Westfield Man

Pornography allegations against volunteer wrestling coach

INDIANAPOLIS - Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced today federal child pornography charges against Christopher Rennard, 28, of Westfield. Rennard serves as a volunteer wrestling coach at Westfield High School and faces charges including, two counts of shipping or transporting by means of computer visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, as well as possessing and distributing child pornography.

“When the most vulnerable of our citizens are victimized, my office will aggressively do everything in its power to protect them,” said Hogsett. “Child predators around the state are on notice; we will find you, investigate you and prosecute you with the full force of federal law.”

According to the criminal complaint affidavit, a report was submitted to the Cyber Tip Line by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The report was submitted by Dropbox, Inc. and indicated that a user on their online data storage service had uploaded and stored files that contained child pornography between January 15-27, 2014. Investigators determined Rennard was the subscriber and traced the IP address to his residence in Westfield.

A federal search warrant was issued and served on Rennard’s residence on April 17, 2014 by special agents of Homeland Security Investigations and task force officers of the Hamilton County Metropolitan Child Exploitation Task Force. The affidavit alleges that Rennard was present during the search and admitted to collecting and distributing child pornography.

The affidavit further alleges Rennard would make contact with other persons interested in child pornography using an iPhone application called Omegle. Once he found someone to trade with, they would specify if they preferred boys or girls. Rennard would then post links to child pornography images and videos which could be used to access the files stored in his and other individual’s Dropbox accounts. This would make files available for viewing, downloading and copying.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney MaryAnn Mindrum, who is prosecuting the case for the government, Rennard could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine if convicted.

“Through our Operation Community Watch initiative, we have joined with state and local partners to make clear that we will not tolerate child exploitation in Indiana,” Hogsett said. “With innovation and vigilance, we are unmasking these online predators and holding them accountable for their criminal activity.”

This arrest comes one year after Hogsett announced a comprehensive crackdown on child exploitation in Indiana. In 2013, he launched "Operation Community Watch," which has allowed prosecutors and investigators to use cutting-edge techniques to identify and charge people in Hoosier communities who are engaged in the receipt and trafficking of child pornography materials. In this case, those efforts were facilitated by United States Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations and the Hamilton County Metropolitan Child Exploitation Task Force.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a larger nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.

The greatest measure of the PSC program's impact, however, is the identification and rescue of child victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. Over the last two years, the U.S. Attorney's Office successfully identified hundreds of child victims, including minors in Indiana, numerous places in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, and other countries around the world.

Led nationally by United States Attorney’s' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

A complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which time the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated January 26, 2015