Georgia Man Pleads Guilty to Sending Notice Over the Internet Seeking to Produce and Receive Child Pornography
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 19, 2013|
JACKSONVILLE—United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill announced that Stephen Joseph Woods (34, Savannah, Georgia) has pleaded guilty to sending a notice over the Internet offering to produce and receive child pornography. Woods faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years, up to 30 years in federal prison, and a potential life term of supervised release. Woods has been in custody since his arrest on November 2, 2012. A sentencing hearing has not yet been set.
According to court documents, during October and November 2012, multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office (VCSO) and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office (SJCSO), conducted operations in which officers worked undercover on the Internet to target individuals seeking to have sex with minor children. On October 12, 2012, an undercover SJCSO detective, posing as the relative of a 14-year-old female, posted a notice on a bulletin board on a website. Woods responded to the notice by e-mail. During the ensuing e-mail conversation, Woods confirmed that the “child” was 14 years old and suggested in substance that he (Woods) could teach the “child” about sex.
During the next two weeks, Woods and the undercover detective, who used the persona of the child, engaged in online conversations in which Woods indicated his desire to have sex with the child.
On October 29, 2012, Woods and the “child” engaged in an online conversation and discussed a location for their meeting. They discussed meeting in St. Augustine on November 2, 2012. During the conversations, Woods offered several times to produce videos of the “child” engaged in sexually explicit conduct. On the evening of November 2, 2012, Woods arrived at the agreed upon motel in St. Augustine. Woods approached the undercover detective, whom he believed was the “child’s” relative, and asked the detective to have the “child” come outside. Woods was subsequently arrested.
This case was investigated by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, the Volusia County Sheriffs’ Office, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.
It is another case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “Resources.”