U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI Seeking to Identify Potential Victims in Connection with Online Child Exploitation Case
LAKE CHARLES, La. – Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that a Mississippi man pleaded guilty Tuesday to possessing child pornography.
Jesse Easterling, 41, of Hattisburg, Miss., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen Kay to one count of possession of child pornography. The plea will become final when accepted by U.S. District Judge Dee D. Drell. According to the guilty plea, law enforcement agents identified the defendant as having child pornography in April of 2016 while he was staying at an RV park in Lake Charles. Law enforcement agents searched his property and found 72 videos of child pornography on his computer. Some of the videos were sexually explicit images of children under the age of 12. He also admitted during an interview that he had downloaded child pornography over the internet.
Easterling faces up to 20 years in prison, five years to life of supervised release, mandatory registration as a sex offender and up to a $250,000 fine. The court set the sentencing date for August 18, 2017.
This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a U.S. Department of Justice nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood combines 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.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) also encourage the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at (866) 347-2423. Investigators are available at all hours to answer hotline calls. Tips or other information can also be submitted to ICE online by visiting their website at www.ice.gov/exec/forms/hsi-tips/tips.asp or through the Operation Predator smartphone application www.ice.gov/predator/smartphone-app. Tips may be submitted anonymously.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Louisiana State Police conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dominic Rossetti is prosecuting the case.