Anderson Township Man Sentenced to 3 Years for Providing Dark Web Child Porno Links to an Undercover Agent.

On November 9, an Anderson Township man was sentenced to 3 years in prison by U.S District Judge Susan J. Dlott, for aiding and abetting another individual in accessing child pornography. The sentence was announced by Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Steve Francis, Special Agent in charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

James Denney, 30, was charged by indictment in January 2017 for knowingly promoting a URL on the darknet containing child pornography and allegedly aiding another in accessing the pornography of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

According to investigators, Denney provided an undercover agent with web links to an online board featuring dozens of links to child pornography chat rooms, video and image board sites as well as “community” support groups and online security advice for child pornographers. Promoting a URL that contains child pornography is punishable by a range of five to 20 years in prison. Aiding in accessing child pornography carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. Each crime also includes a potential lifetime supervised release.

Denney pleaded guilty to the charges against him in May 2017. According to the statement of facts in support of his plea agreement, Denney used Kik Messenger app to provide the undercover agent with guidance on how to download and use a TOR web browser for the purpose of concealing online activities from law enforcement and others.

While communicating with the officer, Denney personally recommended sections of the online board including “Hurt Core’’ and “Toddler Videos.” Some of the images were of toddlers and pre-teens being bound and raped by adults who represented themselves as parents of those children.

Denney was also sentenced to 8 years of supervised release, and to register as a sex offender and comply with state and federal laws regarding sex offenders.

In the recent past cases of offenders like Denney have alarmingly increased, in the US rarely a week goes by that a child pornographer is not charged or sentenced for federal crimes related to the sexual exploitation of children. Law enforcements have made multiple arrests of child pornographers after carrying out operations such as Operation Pacifier by the feds that took down Playpen, a child porn site, leading to a total of 900 arrests worldwide.

According to a 2016 Department of Justice report to Congress, “the expansion of the internet has led to an explosion in the market for child pornography.” From the report, the Department of Justice indicated that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Leads Child Exploitation Task Forces (CETFs), worked in collaboration with nearly 400 law enforcement partners. The task forces also work closely with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

The report particularly pointed out that the dark web provides offenders with anonymity which emboldens them to commit more egregious offences than those seen on the clear internet platforms.

The report also indicated that an analysis by the FBI on one particularly egregious website on Tor found that it hosted approximately 1.3 million images depicting children subjected to violent sexual abuse. Analysis of files from the site led to identification of at least 73 new victims who were previously unknown to law enforcement. Another investigation on a Tor based site, indicated that the site had 200,000 registered users and 100,000 individuals had accessed the site during a 12-day period.

NCMEC estimated that more than 26 million sexual abuse images and videos were reviewed by their analysts in 2015 alone. Additionally, NCMEC reported that since 2002, more than 10,500 victims depicted in child pornography have been located and identified by law enforcement, While 4.4 million CyberTipline reports were submitted in 2015.