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Fed sentenced for child porn


A federal employee, Johnny Dale Hale, was sentenced this week to two years in prison and five years of supervised release on a child porn charge—after a four-year process of investigation, indictment, and finally the defendant pleading guilty followed by the meting out of punishment.

The crime occurred in the workplace, and involved federally-owned computer equipment. Dale, a decorated veteran of the armed forces, was working on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research vessel back in 2016 when events on the ship prompted the probe, according to a Department of Justice release

Connectivity problems aboard ship led to technicians attempting to cure the issue to stumble upon certain computer folders—which appeared to be created by Dale—that contained the illicit content. A total of “109 pornographic web links” were in the folders, including 33 with child porn, four of which depicted previously identified underage victims of this criminal activity.

In 2017, a grand jury indicted Hale, and earlier this year he pleaded guilty. The Department of Commerce’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement and the FBI all were involved in the investigation used to build the case.

The DOJ release conveyed not only a warning that those who engage in such activity will be discovered and prosecuted, no matter where they access such illegal material. It also contains a direct plea aimed at federal employees and the public to be aware of terrible and tragic facts involved in such sometimes still-underestimated crimes.

“Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor,” the DOJ stated. “It is important to remember child sexual abuse material depicts actual crimes being committed against children.“

“Not only do these images and videos document victims’ exploitation and abuse, but when shared across the internet, child victims suffer re-victimization each time the image of their abuse is viewed,” DOJ stated. 

The case was handled by the DOJ U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon, in Eugene. 

For more on this issue, please see the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s website at www.missingkids.org, as well as the Department of Justice's web-based initiative to help solve it, Project Safe Childhood at www.justice.gov/psc.

2021 Digital Almanac

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