Court Orders Houston Man Charged with Multiple Child Exploitation Charges Held Without Bond
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 21, 2010|
HOUSTON—After a hearing late yesterday, a 28-year-old Houston man has been ordered to remain in federal custody without bond pending trial on charges of attempted sexual exploitation of children, transfer of obscene material to a minor, coercion and enticement, and possessing child pornography, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard C. Powers announced today.
Juan Perez, 28, was charged in a five-count indictment with two counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor (attempted production of child pornography) and one count each of transferring of obscene material to a minor, coercion and enticement, and possessing child pornography by a Houston grand jury on Dec. 8, 2010. Members of the Innocent Images Unit of the FBI Houston office, the agency whose investigative efforts lead to the charges, arrested Perez on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010. The Innocent Images Unit of the Houston FBI focuses its efforts upon investigating offenses involving the exploitation of children via the internet.
Perez faces a mandatory minimum statutory sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment and up to a maximum of 30 years if convicted of either count of attempted production of child pornography. Transfer of obscene material to a minor carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. The coercion and enticement of a child carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years up to life imprisonment, while the possession of child pornography is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. In addition, each charge is punishable by a $250,000 fine. If convicted, upon completion of any prison term imposed, Perez also faces a maximum of life on supervised release during which the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect the children and prohibit the use of the Internet.
In deciding Perez would remain in federal custody without bond following yesterday’s hearing, United States Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson considered testimony alleging that in 2008 Perez sent a letter and cash to a minor in California in an attempt to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce her to fly to Houston and engage in sexual activity for which a person could be charged with a crime. In Texas, the crime would constitute sexual assault of a person between 14 and 16 years of age. Additionally, the court learned that the state of California has issued warrants for Perez’s arrest for the alleged online enticement of a minor. Yesterday’s testimony also alleged that from October 2009 until July 2010 Perez maintained relationships with two minors in North Carolina by computer and cell phone. The court heard that Perez allegedly attempted to persuade, induce, entice, and coerce the minors to create visual depictions of sexually explicit conduct by photographing and/or videotaping themselves. According to testimony heard today in open court, Perez allegedly used the threat of posting suggestive photos of the minors online if they did not comply with his demands. Perez also allegedly sent one of the minors obscene photographs of his genitals. Lastly, the court heard that Perez allegedly had ongoing online and phone contact with a 13-year-old Houston minor female and had allegedly sought out the minor and inquired about her to her friends and neighbors. Based upon these alleged factors, the court found that Perez would pose a danger to the community if released on bond.
This 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. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices, 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 information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
As a result of the court’s order today, Perez will remain in federal custody without bond pending his trial before United States District Judge Gray Miller.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Zack.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.