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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Indiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 6, 2022

Previously Convicted Sex Offender Sentenced to 25 Years in Federal Prison for Producing and Distributing Sexually Explicit Material Involving Minors

EVANSVILLE – An Evansville man was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for the production and distribution of sexually explicit material involving minors.

According to court documents, in February 2018, an individual contacted the Evansville Police Department to report that she had been contacted by an unknown female stating she had received inappropriate messages from the individual’s social media accounts. The individual further discovered that someone was using her name and photographs to set up social media accounts to contact and communicate with underage girls to receive nude photographs. That person was named Wesley Trafford, who she did not know or give him permission to do so.

After further investigation, agents executed a search warrant at the residence of Wesley E. Trafford, 35, Evansville. Evidence was collected and sent to the Indiana State Police for examination. The forensic examination of the evidence found that Trafford took images from social media accounts belonging to other people to create fake accounts. He would then use the fake accounts to obtain nude images of minor victims and distributed those nude images of minors to others. Trafford had previously been convicted of child exploitation in September 2014 in Vanderburgh County, and was a registered sex offender at the time he committed these federal offenses.

“Every parent and child should be aware of the dangers lurking online. Often, the person on the other side of the screen is not who they pretend to be, and in fact may be a serial sexual predator seeking additional minor victims. Recidivist sex offenders against children are a particular federal priority, and my office will work tirelessly to hold them accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers. “The serious consequences imposed today are an important part of protecting the public and demonstrating to would-be offenders that they will be found, and they will be brought to justice.”

“This case demonstrates the commitment of the FBI and our law enforcement partners to protect the most vulnerable of our society, our children,” said FBI Indianapolis Acting Special Agent in Charge Gregory Nelsen. “Every time sexually explicit images of children are viewed it revictimizes a child and the FBI will continue to work diligently to ensure those who would harm them are held accountable.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. The Indiana State Police and the Evansville Police Department also provided invaluable assistance. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young. As part of the sentence, Judge Young also imposed five years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Shellenbarger who prosecuted this case.

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

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated January 7, 2022