Montpelier Man Detained on Charges of Producing Child Pornography
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Paul Richards, 33, of Montpelier, Vermont was detained today following a hearing before the United States Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy on charges that he sexually exploited a minor victim for the purpose of producing child pornography. Richards was charged by complaint on June 12, 2019. If convicted, he faces a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence and up to 30 years in prison.
According to the affidavit filed with the complaint in the matter, a tip from a SnapChat user alerted law enforcement that an individual was sharing images of the sexual abuse of a 9-year-old girl. Law enforcement followed a digital trail to the home of the victim in Montpelier, Vermont, and then identified Richards as the abuser. According to the complaint affidavit, a search of Richards’s home resulted in the identification of items and settings visible in the images of abuse.
The United States now has 30 days from the time of the initial arrest to bring formal charges against Richards. The charges in the complaint are merely allegations and Richards is deemed innocent until proven guilty of those charges.
U.S. Attorney Christina E. Nolan thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the center for Internet Crimes Against Children, Montpelier Police, South Burlington Police and the Vermont State Police for their rapid investigation and close collaboration in this case. U.S. Attorney Nolan stated: “There is no higher priority for Vermont law enforcement than protection of children, the most innocent and vulnerable members of society. They represent Vermont’s future and its promise. We will continue to come together at all levels of law enforcement to bring strong consequences to those who prey on the innocent. Crimes against children are intolerable and will be treated accordingly.”
“Cases like this require quick and collaborative law enforcement action,” said James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). “The FBI is always prepared to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to protect the children of our communities in any way we can.”
“This case is a great example of investigative cooperation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Montpelier Police Department,” stated Tony Facos, Montpelier Police Chief.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources better to 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.
The United States is represented in this matter by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eugenia Cowles and William Darrow. Richards is represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Steven Barth.