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Press Release

Local man receives 30 years in prison for fondling minor while producing child pornography

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

HOUSTON - A 39-year-old resident of Montgomery County has been sentenced for sexually exploiting a child and possession of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

James Aubrey Zachary Wasson pleaded guilty Sept. 27, 2023.

U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks has now sentenced Wasson to 360 months and 120 months for the sexual exploitation and production convictions, respectively. They will run concurrently for a total 30-year-term of imprisonment. At the hearing, the court heard from the victim’s mother detailing how Wasson’s actions caused the child to suffer nightmares. In handing down the prison terms, the court acknowledged that the sentence was “life altering for a reason,” noting that the victim’s life will never be the same. The judge also rejected Wasson’s excuse that he exploited the child because of a drug addiction, commenting that drug abuse does not lead preying upon children.

Wasson was further ordered to pay $29,000 in restitution to multiple victims and will serve 10 years on supervised release following completion of his prison term. During that time, he will have to comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children and the internet. Wasson will also be ordered to register as a sex offender.

“Wasson shattered a little girl’s life,” said Hamdani. “Today’s sentence cannot give her back the life she should have had, but it does ensure Wasson cannot hurt other children for a very long time.”

“Over the course of two years, this child predator uploaded more than 500 files of child sexual abuse materials to the internet, including over 50 files of himself sexually exploiting a minor victim,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston. “Thanks to the selfless bravery of one of his victims who worked with investigators to confirm his identity, we were able to obtain his conviction and ensure he is held accountable for his heinous actions.”

Authorities identified Wasson after discovering over 500 files of child pornography he had uploaded between March 2019 and March 2021. One folder contained a series of 51 photographs, all taken on a single date in December 2020. Some showed him in a state of sexual arousal next to a minor female child. He also appeared to be fondling her under her clothing.

A subsequent search of Wasson’s cell phone confirmed it was the device he used to produce the series of sexually explicit photographs. The cell phone also contained other files of child pornography taken between May 2020 and May 2021.

The minor victim also identified Wasson and recalled when he took the photographs.

Wasson will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Bauman prosecuted the case, which was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section leads PSC, which marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children and identifies and rescues victims. For more information about PSC, please visit DOJ’s PSC page. For more information about internet safety education, please visit the resources link on that page.

Updated May 29, 2024

Project Safe Childhood