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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Houston Man Hammered for Producing Child Pornography

HOUSTON – A 39-year-old Houston resident has been ordered to federal prison for nearly 30 years for sexual exploitation of a child, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. John Ferguson was found guilty following a bench trial May 30, 2018.  

Today, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller, who presided over that trial, ordered Ferguson to serve a total of 324 months in federal prison to be followed by a life term of supervised release. During that time, he will have to comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children and the internet. Additional information was also presented today, including a letter presented to the court from the mother of the victim detailing the torment Ferguson inflicted on her and her family. “He used that trust to assault my daughter while she was too young to communicate,” she said.

“I am still having trouble finding the words to say, but I can say that this severe emotional pain that I carry and try to push pack is heavy, it never gets any less severe, and is something that won’t go away,” she added.

Ferguson will also be ordered to register as a sex offender.

Authorities executed a search warrant at Ferguson’s residence in July 2015. The warrant was obtained based on information that led investigators to believe that Ferguson was accessing files from a website known to contain child pornography. The search resulted in the seizure of computers which yielded numerous photos and videos of child pornography.

In some of the videos, an underage girl is seen being sexually assaulted and in lewd and lascivious poses that show her genitalia. The minor female is seen on heavily stained carpet and on a bathroom counter during these acts. These items were later proven to match those seen in Ferguson’s residence. He is also seen in the videos. 

As part of the investigation, authorities sent the images/videos to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), who identified several videos that Ferguson appeared to have produced. NCMEC contacted the FBI which resulted in the victim’s identification.

Ferguson was originally charged by criminal complaint, but fled before apprehension. Ultimately, he was captured.  

This case was initiated pursuant to a nationwide investigation known as Operation Pacifier which targeted users of a TOR network child pornography website whose primary purpose was to advertise and distribute child pornography. Following the February 2015 arrest of the primary site administrator, law enforcement was able to identify more than 1,000 U.S.-based user IP addresses. One of those addresses resolved back to Ferguson's residence.

Ferguson has been in custody since his arrest where he will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The FBI conducted the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Zack prosecuted the case, which 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.”

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Component(s): 
Updated April 18, 2019