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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 19, 2018

Couple Who Produced Child Pornography Get Decades In Prison

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN - U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced today that Sherri Smith and Joseph Williams were sentenced to 60 years and 80 years in prison, respectively, for their roles in exploiting multiple children to produce child pornography.

          Smith, 48, of Osceola, Indiana, and Williams, 53, of Watervliet, were in a dating relationship and sexually exploited six children in their care and custody to produce multiple images of child pornography. The victims ranged in age from six months to fourteen years. Williams shared some of the images with an undercover police officer in Cincinnati via an encrypted messaging application, which led to their investigation and prosecution. Smith pleaded guilty on October 17, 2017 to two counts of production of child pornography. Williams pleaded guilty on December 7, 2017 to two counts of production of child pornography and one count of distribution of child pornography.

          The government noted at sentencing that the behavior was depraved and represented ongoing, systemic, and horrific abuse of multiple children. Williams’s residence was, as Chief U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jonker agreed, a "child pornography house of horrors." In sentencing the defendants, Judge Jonker noted that this case was "truly, if not the worst, then one of the two or three worst cases" he had seen and described the images Smith and Williams produced as disgusting and difficult to view.

          U.S. Attorney Birge stated, "This prosecution and sentence demonstrates that this kind of depravity will be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law. My office will not tolerate the abuse and exploitation of children."

          "The significance of these sentences underscores the importance of keeping innocent children safe from predators. It is our hope that each of the victims in this case can gain a sense of closure and begin the healing process," said Timothy R. Slater, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit FBI. "The FBI is committed to the arrest and prosecution of anyone who engages in such horrific behavior that endangers some of the most vulnerable members of our society."

          This case was investigated by FBI offices in Cincinnati, Ohio, St. Joseph, Michigan, and South Bend, Indiana. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexis M. Sanford prosecuted the case and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana assisted in the investigation.

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Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated April 19, 2018