Hancock County Man Charged with Distribution of Child Pornography
U.S. Attorney Announces Arrest as Part of Ongoing Project Safe Childhood Initiative
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 20, 2012|
GREENFIELD—Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced today that Justin Cole, age 23, of New Palestine, has been charged by criminal complaint with distributing child pornography as part of the U.S. Attorney’s ongoing Project Safe Childhood initiative.
“The mission of our Project Safe Childhood initiative is to investigate and prosecute anyone found to engaged in the sexual exploitation of children,” Hogsett said. “Today’s announcement underscores this serious commitment and should make clear that if you engage in such behavior, you will be found and brought to justice.”
According to the criminal complaint, federal and state law enforcement in Indiana first became involved in this case in July 2012 after an individual in Texas was charged with trading images of child pornography online. An extensive search for other individuals involved in those alleged criminal acts led law enforcement to an e-mail address that was traced to Cole’s residence in New Palestine.
Based on that information, a search warrant was obtained on September 13, 2012, and was subsequently executed by law enforcement officers from the Indiana State Police and the FBI Cyber Crime Task Force. A forensic review allegedly revealed thousands of images depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct that were stored on a laptop computer, as well as hundreds of videos. The complaint also alleges that materials were located on a desktop computer in the home.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Brant Cook, who is prosecuting the case for the government, Cole could face up to 20 years in prison if he is found to be guilty, as well as a $250,000 fine and lifetime supervised release.
This case was brought as part of the U.S. Attorney’s 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 to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more on Project Safe Childhood, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov
A criminal complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.