INDIANAPOLIS – An Indianapolis, Indiana man was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for sexually exploiting two young children in his care and creating and distributing images of the abuse over the internet.
This investigation began when Donald Robert Richards, III, 32, began communicating with an undercover agent in an online chatroom. On multiple occasions during the chats, Richards uploaded images depicting the sexual abuse of two young female children. Richards went on to explain his familial relationship with the children and describe his sexual conduct with the girls.
The undercover agent was able to ascertain Richards’s identity, and eventually, with the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children (“ICAC”) Task Force, investigators were able to determine Richards’s location in Indianapolis.
That same day, the Indiana ICAC Task Force assembled to obtain and execute a search warrant at Richards’s location to rescue the two children. Law enforcement officers removed the children from harm’s way, gathered evidence of Richards’s crimes, and arrested Richards.
Digital evidence showed that Richards had repeatedly sexually exploited the children, who were both under six years old, and on multiple occasions had filmed the abuse. Further, the evidence showed, consistent with the undercover’s interactions, that Richards shared the child sexual abuse material he created with others over the Internet.
Richards pleaded guilty to charges of sexual exploitation of a child and charges of distribution of a visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
“For a child, her home and a family member’s arms should be the safest places in the world,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers. “But the hands and home of Donald Robert Richards III were the most perilous places for our young victims to be, because Richards’s home was the site of protracted sexual exploitation and the only weapon he ever needed was opportunity. Had Richards not been so brazen as to record his crimes and to distribute the images, no one would have known what the victims suffered. We are grateful to the Indiana ICAC for their efforts to bring these girls out of the dark silence of Richards’ abuse.”
According to Assistant United States Attorney Kristina M. Korobov, who prosecuted the case, Richards was ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution and will be federally supervised for a life term following his release from prison.
This investigation was conducted by the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, a partnership of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies led by the Indiana State Police. The Task Force is dedicated to investigating and prosecuting crimes involving the technology-facilitated sexual exploitation of children and the trafficking of child sexual abuse material. Each year, Indiana ICAC investigators evaluate thousands of tips, investigate hundreds of cases, and rescue dozens of children from ongoing sexual abuse. In fiscal year 2019, the Southern District of Indiana was second out of the 94 federal districts in the country for the number of child sexual exploitation cases prosecuted.
Additionally, this case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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.justice.gov/psc