Child Pornographer Sentenced to 25 Years for Sexually Exploiting Minors
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 14, 2014|
ORLANDO—U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell today sentenced Daniel Heffield (30, Orlando, Florida) to 25 years in federal prison for producing and possessing child pornography. The court also ordered Heffield to serve a life term of supervised release, following his incarceration, and to register as a sex offender. As part of the sentence, Heffield was also ordered to forfeit his interest in the computers and camera that he used to commit the offenses.
Heffield pleaded guilty on August 29, 2013.
According to court documents, Heffield produced and attempted to produce between 25 and 30 sexually explicit videos of at least nine prepubescent and pubescent girls while they used the bathroom at his home. Heffield had built a device to secure a camera in the bathroom vanity drawer, opposite the toilet. The victims took piano lessons from Heffield’s mother, at Heffield’s house, and were surreptitiously recorded when they used the bathroom during their lessons. Heffield posted the videos of what he considered to be the best shots of the children’s naked genitalia on the Internet. Homeland Security Investigations special agents located one of the videos during a child pornography investigation in Maine and subsequently were able to identify a 6-year-old child.
In an unrelated investigation, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) discovered that Heffield was a prolific distributer of child pornography after they downloaded compressed files containing thousands of images depicting the sexual exploitation of prepubescent and pubescent girls that Heffield had posted to a newsgroup. In April 2013, agents executed a search warrant at Heffield’s home and located more than 1,300 images of child pornography that Heffield had stored on three different hard drives. Heffield admitted to producing, distributing, and possessing child pornography and said that he had been viewing child pornography for about the past 15 years. Heffield said that he uploaded child pornography to a newsgroup and encouraged and taught others to do the same because it was a faster and easier way to obtain child pornography.
“The exploitation of children is one of the most heinous crimes we investigate,” said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Tampa. “Innocent, unsuspecting children are violated, and their images are traded online for eternity. Our special agents take crimes against children very seriously, and we ensure that child pornographers are sentenced to the fullest extent of the law.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Paul Wysopal said, “The facts of this case gives you a glimpse into the mind of a child predator and the lengths to which such an individual will go in order to take advantage of our children. It is an ugly reminder to parents that these predators will exploit children while hiding in the shadows of restrooms and the Internet. It is our job as law enforcement officers to drag them out of the shadows and we will continue to do so.”
“Investigations such as this require the ongoing cooperation of our law enforcement partners, as was demonstrated in this case,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley. “Partnerships like these allow us to bring the proper resources to bear against these egregious crimes.”
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Karen L. Gable.
It is another case 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 (CEOS), 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.projectsafechildhood.gov. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov and click on the tab “Other Resources.”