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Press Release

Hogsett Announces Eastern Indiana Man’s Petition To Plead Guilty To Child Exploitation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Indiana

Former law enforcement officer charged with production of child pornography as part of “Operation Community Watch”

INDIANAPOLIS – Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced today Derek D. Walton, 31, of Liberty, has filed a petition to plead guilty to two counts of child exploitation through the production of child pornography. Hogsett said that Walton’s request to plead guilty, along with entering into a plea agreement and stipulated factual basis for the offense, comes as his office has launched Operation Community Watch, a new effort which aims to reduce the abuse of Hoosier children through innovative investigative techniques and aggressive prosecution.

“Working together with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners we are committed to holding child predators accountable,” said Hogsett. “Regardless of your position of power or trust, perpetrators who sexually exploit our children will be found and will be prosecuted.”

“The FBI does not tolerate the sexual exploitation of children and will dedicate all available resources to ensure their safety,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones. “Anyone can help in the fight against child sexual exploitation by reporting instances of child pornography to NCMEC’s Cyber Tip Line at 1-800-843-5678”.

At the time of his arrest, Walton had been a law enforcement officer in eastern Indiana for nearly a decade. Walton was a reserve sheriff’s deputy at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office from 2004 until his arrest. Walton was also a reserve deputy and jail officer with the Union County Sheriff’s Office at the time of his arrest. Prior to those positions, Walton was employed by the Richmond Police Department and served as a deputy marshal for the Laurel Police Department.

On November 25, 2012, Walton used the email account to distribute two images of child pornography. AOL terminated Walton’s account the next day. Walton accessed his AOL account from the Franklin County Security Center approximately 29 times between October and November of 2011.

Between January 3 and 16, 2011, Walton used the personal email account, to exchange several emails with another child exploitation offender. Walton and this offender traded child pornography images and videos over email, and in these emails Walton discussed his interest in child pornography and history of collecting and trading child pornography. Federal law enforcement officers later obtained these emails in the course of an investigation of another child exploitation offender.

As a result of the investigation, federal agents served a search warrant at Walton’s home in Liberty, Indiana on August 16, 2013. During the search, agents located a thumb drive hidden behind a mirror in the main bedroom of Walton’s home and a small video camera hidden in a can in the living room. The thumb drive and camera were found to contain seventeen still images and two videos depicting a nude girl between 13 and 14 years old showering and changing clothes while being secretly recorded by video recorders hidden by Walton. Walton created the videos in approximately November, 2012. On December 18, 2013, Walton was charged with two counts of child exploitation for production of the two videos.

According to Senior Litigation Counsel Steven D. DeBrota and Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers, who are prosecuting the case for the government, Walton faces no less than fifteen and up to sixty years in federal prison if the Court accepts a guilty plea. Federal law also mandates that individuals convicted of child exploitation pay restitution to their victims. In addition, Walton faces a sentence of up to lifetime supervised release, and must comply with all state and federal requirements for registration as a sex offender.

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 the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Indiana State Police, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, as well as the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.

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 more than 120 child victims, including minors in Indiana, numerous places in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, and other countries around the world.

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

Updated January 26, 2015