Investigation into child sex tourism leads to conviction and life sentence for Noblesville man
Defendant convicted of producing child pornography and concealing evidence sentenced to life
Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced today the sentencing of Noblesville, Ind. man, Charles Skaggs, Jr., age 53, to life in federal prison after his conviction at trial during July 2019 for sexual exploitation of a minor, possession of child pornography, and concealment of evidence. Skaggs had a prior conviction out of Clark County, Ind. for sexual misconduct with a minor.
“Today’s sentence sends a strong message to those who seek to exploit our minor children that you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, particularly those with prior records of child exploitation,” said Minkler. “Protecting our youth from sexual predators will always remain a top priority of this office and this life sentence will ensure that the public is safe from any future victimization from this defendant.”
This case began in 2015 as an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) of child sex tourism in Ukraine, including Skaggs’ work with orphanages there. In December 2016, Skaggs was searched at the U.S. Customs area of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport during his return trip from Ukraine to Indiana. Law enforcement officers recovered thumb drives that contained child pornography, including child pornography that Skaggs’ produced in Indiana.
Skaggs was arrested by the FBI. Prior to his arrest, Skaggs hid a hard drive in the ceiling of a shared laundry room in his residence. During Skaggs’ pretrial detention at the Henderson County Detention Center, law enforcement officers intercepted a note written by Skaggs, which disclosed the location of the hard drive. The hard drive contained, among other things, images of videos of child pornography, including copies of the same pornography found on the thumb drives seized at the airport.
Skaggs had a bench trial before the Honorable Sarah Evans Barker, United States District Judge, Southern District of Indiana, on July 22, 2019 through July 24, 2019. Skaggs was convicted of all nine counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, two counts of possession of child pornography, and one count of concealment of evidence.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI-St. Paul), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Indiana State Police.
“Children are among the most vulnerable in our society and it is our collective responsibility to protect them from predators such as Mr. Skaggs. His life sentence should send a clear message to those who engage in this conduct - you will be investigated, identified, and prosecuted - and you will go to prison,” said Special Agent in Charge Grant Mendenhall, FBI Indianapolis. “The teamwork between our agents and state law enforcement partners ensured there is one less predator victimizing the most innocent of our communities.”
“Sexual predators, like Charles Skaggs, who think they can avoid U.S. laws by traveling abroad for the purpose of sexually exploiting children will find no safe refuge upon their return to the U.S., said Tracy J. Cormier, Special Agent in Charge of HSI St. Paul. “HSI proudly stands with our law enforcement partners and remains steadfastly committed to doing all we can to stop this heinous practice.”
According to Assistant United States Attorneys MaryAnn T. Mindrum and Kyle M. Sawa, who prosecuted this case for the government, Skaggs must also serve 5 years of supervised release following his sentence.
In October 2017, United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its most significant public safety challenges. This prosecution demonstrates the Office’s firm commitment to prosecuting those who exploit or harm children and to work closely with Project Safe Childhood. See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan Section 4.1 and 4.2.