Former Local Resident Pleads Guilty To Distributing Child Pornography
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Trent Ashley Willis, 37, has pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. The plea was entered yesterday in federal court in Corpus Christi before Senior U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack.
Willis came to the attention of law enforcement after multiple pornographic images of children were posted to several websites. The investigation led to the identity of Willis who had been posting and exchanging child pornography in Corpus Christi between May and October of 2012 via legitimate websites with other users who were similarly interested. Willis resided in Corpus Christi during parts of 2012, but left the area sometime during late 2012. He was eventually discovered and arrested without incident in Petersberg, Va., in October 2013.
The ongoing investigation has linked Willis to numerous occurrence of Internet-based child pornography related activities in multiple states.
Judge Jack has set sentencing for March 19, 2014, at which time he faces a minimum of five and up to 20 years in federal prison. Upon completion of any prison term imposed, Willis also faces a maximum of life on supervised release during which the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect children. He will also have to register as a sex offender. Willis has been in custody since his arrest where he will remain pending that hearing.
The FBI investigated with the assistance of the Corpus Christi Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
This case, prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lance Duke, 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 the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."