In July 2021, a Virginia man pleaded guilty to possessing material depicting child sexual abuse. He committed this offense after he had been released for a previous conviction of possessing child exploitation materials.
Shortly after pleading guilty last year, law enforcement officers searched the home of Ian Andrew Zearley where they found his disturbing possessions. According to the Department of Justice, law enforcement discovered electric shock equipment and a list of children’s names in his basement. They also found a ski mask, pellet gun, and business cards calling him the president of “Pedophile Associates of America.” Zearley also possessed children’s diapers, bottles, and toys.
On Thursday, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release.
While on his previous supervised release, officers monitored his computer where they found that Zearley searched graphic terms looking for child pornography. According to authorities, Zearley also wrote accounts describing the rape and abuse of young boys.
On Thursday, the DOJ also published a press release on a New Jersey man who has been charged with enticing a minor online to give him sexual videos and images. Between July 2020 and February 2021, Erick Solis allegedly used social media to message underage victims. He allegedly asked them to send him sexually explicit photos of themselves, and one of the victims complied at least once, according to the DOJ. Solis faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a potential sentence of life in prison along with a $250,000 fine.
In December, The Daily Wire reported on an Indiana man who was sentenced to prison for distributing child pornography through Facebook. Lorenzo Johnson, also a registered sex offender, found women on Facebook who appeared to be struggling financially and offered them money to take pornographic photographs of children.
“Manipulating vulnerable women into producing pornographic images of voiceless children is despicable criminal behavior,” said Clifford D. Johnson, attorney for the Northern District of Indiana.
“As the jury unanimously found, Lorenzo Johnson repeatedly persuaded vulnerable women to sexually exploit infants and young children,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr. for the DOJ’s Criminal Division said. “Today’s sentence sends a strong message that offenders who target vulnerable members of our society, and especially children, will be brought to justice.”
“This sentence demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to identifying sexual predators and investigating these type of cases with a sense of urgency to ensure those who victimize our most vulnerable members of society pay the price with time in prison,” Special Agent Gregory Nelsen said.
These criminals were brought to justice through the nationwide initiaive Project Safe Childhood, a DOJ initiative that focuses on “[combatting] the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.” Project Safe Childhood was started in 2006 and is led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS). It focuses on using resources to to better “locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.”
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