Skip to main content
Press Release

Morgan County Child Molester Sentenced to 30 Years in Federal Prison for Sexual Exploitation and Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Material

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

INDIANAPOLIS- Justin Herrington, 32, of Whitaker, Indiana, has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to sexual exploitation of a child and distributing and possessing child sexual abuse material.

According to court documents, in 2012, Herrington sexually abused Minor Victim 1, a 5-year-old child in his care, custody, or control, in Morgan County, Indiana. Herrington’s abuse of the child was discovered in 2012 and he was arrested and charged in state court. He was convicted of child molestation in 2014 and spent 446 days in prison before being released to serve the remainder of his sentence on probation. Herrington was also ordered to register as a sex offender against children for the remainder of his life.

After his release from prison, Herrington began distributing, receiving, and possessing child sex abuse material—including a previously unknown image he produced of Minor Victim 1 engaged in sexually explicit conduct in approximately 2012, when he was sexually abusing the child.

On March 6, 2019, law enforcement officials received a report from a drugstore employee who believed that Herrington had submitted images of child sexual abuse to the store for photo processing. Law enforcement officers arrested Herrington later that day when he arrived at the store to pick up the images. Further investigation of Herrington’s digital devices uncovered numerous images and videos of child sexual abuse material of prepubescent children under the age of 12, including the image of Minor Victim 1. Many of the images, messages, and search terms located on Herrington’s devices demonstrate a sexual obsession with children in diapers.

Forensic investigation of all of Herrington’s digital devices proved that he belonged to a Russian-based website known by law enforcement for spreading child sexual abuse material. The investigation also revealed that Herrington was in the process of grooming a 13-year-old girl via Chat Hour and Snapchat. Online, Herrington claimed to be an 18-year-old and nearly enticed the girl to send him sexually explicit images of herself and meeting him in person.

At the time of his arrest, Herrington was in a relationship with an individual that had a 5-year-old child, in violation of the terms of his release for child molestation. Information on Herrington’s devices revealed that he attempted to get jobs at local daycares and as a babysitter, and even responded to a Craigslist advertisement seeking a babysitter for a 4-year-old.

On or about August 6, 2019, Herington was charged with federal offenses, and ordered detained pending trial. In August 2021, while in federal custody, Herrington used detention facility mail to send sexually suggestive depictions of children wearing diapers, including Minor Victim 1, that were produced to his attorneys during his state prosecution to at least 19 other inmates around the country.

Zachary A. Myers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, John Richards, Chief of Martinsville Police Department, Herbert J. Stapleton, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office, and Doug Carter, Indiana State Police Superintendent made the announcement.

“For years, this insatiable child sex predator demonstrated utter disregard for the safety and dignity of children to satisfy his own sick lusts,” said Zachary A. Myers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. “It is especially chilling that he was grooming an additional victim online and repeatedly sought to work in daycares and as a babysitter. The sentence imposed today demonstrates that a civilized society will simply not tolerate these heinous crimes against our children. I commend the Martinsville Police Department, Indiana State Police, and the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for working together to remove this dangerous pedophile from our community.”

Martinsville Police Department, Indiana State Police, the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and FBI investigated the case. The Morgan County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office prosecuted the related state cases. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge James R. Sweeney. Judge Sweeney also ordered that Herrington be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for life following his release from federal prison. Herrington must continue to register as sex offender where he lives, works, and goes to school as required by law and has been ordered to pay restitution to Minor Victim 1.

U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant United States Attorney Tiffany J. Preston, who prosecuted this case.

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 most recent year for which data is available, 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.

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


Updated March 24, 2023

Project Safe Childhood