Former Columbia Resident Pleads Guilty to Receipt and Possession of Child Pornography
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 10, 2014|
A former Columbia, Illinois resident pled guilty on January 10, 2014, to a two-count indictment charging him, in count one, with receipt of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2252(a)(2); and, in count two, with possession of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2252(a)(4)(B), the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Neil E. Purdy, 29, formerly of Columbia, Illinois, faces a term of imprisonment of not less than five but not more than 20 years, a fine up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of five years to life on count one; and a term of imprisonment of not more than 10 years, a fine up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of five years to life on count two. In addition, upon his release from prison, Purdy must register as a sex offender. Sentencing is scheduled for May 16, 2014, in East St. Louis, Illinois. Purdy has been held without bond since his initial appearance on April 26, 2013.
The investigation began on February 7, 2012, when an individual contacted the Columbia Police Department to report that the defendant molested his/her 14-year-old child. He/she also told the Columbia police that he/she saw the defendant “Google” the phrase, “where can I find really young porn.” He/she said that, when he/she asked the defendant, “How long have you had this little problem?” Purdy responded, “About three years.”
On February 16, 2012, Purdy, a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve with top secret clearance, admitted to Columbia Police officers that he molested the 14-year-old. When questioned about searching for or possessing child pornography, Purdy admitted that he possessed videos and images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct on his laptop computer. Purdy subsequently led the officers to his apartment and allowed them to seize the laptop computer. A forensic review of Purdy’s laptop computer revealed 20 videos and seven images of minors engaged in sexually explicit behavior.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 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.”
The case was investigated by the Columbia, Illinois Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Springfield Child Exploitation Task Force (SCETF). The case is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Angela Scott.