A Weed, California man was sentenced to 218 months in prison for conspiracy to produce child pornography based on his participation in a website that was operated for the purpose of coercing and enticing minors as young as eight years old to engage in sexually explicit conduct on web camera.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia; and Section Chief John J. Brosnan of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children Section (VCACS) made the announcement.
Jeffery Van Dyke, 46, was charged on April 4, 2016, and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia on March 10, 2017.
According to admissions made in connection with the plea agreement, members of the conspiracy created false profiles on social networking sites popular with children posing as young teenagers to lure children to two websites they controlled. Once on the conspirators’ websites, Van Dyke admitted that members of the conspiracy showed the children pre-recorded videos of prior minor victims, often engaging in sexually explicit conduct, to make the new victims think that they were chatting with another minor.
Van Dyke further admitted that conspirators used these videos to coerce and entice children to engage in sexually explicit activity on their own web cameras, which could be viewed live by other members without the victim’s knowledge and which the website automatically recorded and made available for download later. Van Dyke admitted that he linked minors to one of the websites and chatted with them there in furtherance of the conspiracy. The defendant also admitted that one of the websites ranked the efforts of the members to successfully coerce and entice children to engage in sexually explicit conduct on live web camera. Law enforcement agencies have disabled both websites.
Weed’s sentence will be followed by 15 years of supervised release and he was further ordered to pay $15, 215 in restitution.
VCACS special agents led the investigation with the assistance of the FBI’s Operation Rescue Me and the FBI’s Digital Analysis and Research Center and the Office of Victim Assistance. The South Africa Police Service, Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offenses, Gauteng; Royal Canadian Mounted Police, National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre; the Dutch Police Service Agency, KLPD; and the Australian Federal Police, Child Protection Operations, Sydney were active partners in Operation Subterfuge, a multinational investigation coordinated by members of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force. Trial Attorney Lauren Britsch of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Whitney Russell of the Eastern District of Virginia prosecuted the case.
The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance in this matter.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, 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.justice.gov/psc.
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