TERRE HAUTE - Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced today that Chris A. Lowery, age 47, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence to 120 months (10 years) in federal prison after admitting that he possessed child pornography. Hogsett noted that today’s sentencing decision represented more local results for Operation Community Watch, a new effort which aims to reduce the abuse of Hoosier children through innovative investigative techniques and aggressive prosecution.
“This defendant learned what so many other criminals have learned since the launch of Operation Community Watch – you are not anonymous online,” Hogsett said. “If you engage in the exploitation of children, online or offline, you will be identified and you will face the full weight of federal law.”
According to court documents, investigators began investigating Lowery in May 2012. A search warrant revealed the defendant to be in possession of an extensive child pornography collection. These materials included horrific images and videos showing the abuse of children as young as age five. All told, investigators identified more than one thousand images depicting child exploitation in Lowery’s possession, and the total collection exceeded 20,000 images. As part of the federal prosecution, law enforcement has moved to seize all of the computers and other electronic devices associated with the defendant’s criminal activity.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Gayle Helart, who prosecuted the case for the government, Lowery was ordered to serve ten years supervised release at the end of his prison term. Under federal law, the defendant must serve at least 85% of his sentence within a federal correctional facility.
This arrest comes as Hogsett has announced a comprehensive crackdown on child exploitation in Indiana. Just last year, he launched "Operation Community Watch," which will allow 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, these efforts were facilitated by Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Indiana State Police, the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce, along with Terre Haute and Vigo County law enforcement.
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. Hogsett pointed out that in the last Project Safe Childhood reporting year, the Office prosecuted 52 defendants, an increase of 37% over the prior year, and 49 defendants were convicted and sentenced. These are all-time records for the Office.
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 year, 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.
Led nationally by United States Attorneys' 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.