Category Archives: Child Sex Abuse

Don’t Victimize Children In Texas

.jpg photo of child victimizing graphic
Kedrick Nelms, 28, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for sex trafficking a 14-year-old girl.

AG Paxton’s Office, Travis County DA
Margaret Moore Obtain Conviction
in Child Sex Trafficking Case

AUSTIN, TX  –  Resulting from a joint effort by his office, the Travis County District Attorney’s office, and the Texas Department of Public Safety, Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that a Travis County District Court sentenced Kedrick Nelms, 28, to 40 years in prison for sex trafficking a 14-year-old girl.

On June 20, a Travis County jury found Nelms guilty of trafficking of persons and of compelling prostitution of a minor, both first-degree felonies.  Nelms opted to have the judge determine his punishment.

The attorney general’s Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime section, led by Deputy Criminal Chief Kirsta Melton and Assistant Attorney General Melissa Holman, assisted the prosecution of the case at the invitation of Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore.  They were joined at the trial by Travis County Assistant District Attorney Josh Reno.

The Texas Department of Public Safety conducted the investigation that led to the successful prosecution of Nelms.

“As a result of this successful, first-of-its-kind partnership between my office, the Travis County District Attorney’s office and the Texas Department of Public Safety, a dangerous and despicable human trafficker has been brought to justice,” Attorney General Paxton said.  “I’m grateful to the prosecutors and our law enforcement partners for their tireless work on this collaborative effort.  My office will continue to work to protect victims from sex trafficking and prosecute those who profit from the exploitation of human beings.”

Travis County District Attorney Moore said: “I commend the attorney general and his assistants for this outstanding prosecution.  I am proud to have partnered in this exemplary collaboration.”

Nelms used a social media app called Tagged to lure his underage victim into a relationship, then introduced her to his girlfriend, Kirsten Violette, who conspired with Nelms to traffick the girl for prostitution in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio in June 2016.

It took a jury one hour to return guilty verdicts on both charges against Nelms.

Separately, Violette pleaded guilty this week to trafficking of persons and faces a punishment hearing in August.

Attorney General Paxton has made combating human trafficking a top priority.  Two years ago, he launched his office’s Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime section, which prosecutes human traffickers across the state.

In April, the section’s prosecution of Backpage.com resulted in the company pleading guilty to human trafficking in Texas and its CEO, Carl Ferrer, pleading guilty to money laundering.

The attorney general’s office also assisted the U.S. Department of Justice with permanently shutting down the website, which was considered the largest online sex trafficking marketplace in the world.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Paxton unveiled a powerful training video to teach Texans how to spot and report suspected human trafficking activity.

Be the One in the Fight Against Human Trafficking” is available for viewing online at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/human-trafficking

Smile You Are On Child Abuse Camera

.jpg photo of Child Abuse graphic
Brian Loss was recorded by Daughter while assaulting her.

Spokane Valley man faces Child Abuse charges; Child reportedly records
violent attack

SPOKANE, WA  –  A Spokane Valley man is facing serious charges of child abuse after police say his daughter recorded him attacking her at home — an attack that was reportedly so violent, the man broke his hand from hitting her so hard.

The video came to light after Brian Loss was arrested on June 20 for 3rd degree assault-domestic violence against his 16-year-old daughter.

Court documents say Loss went to pick up his daughter in Spokane County to give her a ride.  She told police she jumped on the hood of his vehicle to avoid being left behind and he reportedly drove off with her on the hood, swerving in an attempt to knock her off.  The child did eventually fall off the hood, according to police.

Loss appeared in court at the end of June and was then released on his own recognizance, but a domestic violence no contact order was issued.

During the investigation, police say they obtained a video of a December 5, 2017, assault by Loss at his residence.  It was during that assault that police say Loss broke his hand during the beating.  He and his daughter later went to an urgent care to have a cast put on it.

Documents also say that Loss violated the domestic violence no contact order on July 1.  He was arrested and appeared in court on Tuesday.

Loss is charged with third degree assault and witness tampering, third degree child rape, third degree child molestation and harassment.

He will be in court again on July 17.

LESS VIABLE OPTIONS FOR TRAFFICKED CHILDREN

.jpg photo of U.S. Department of Justice Building
United States Department of Justice Building

Trouble Ahead for Wrongly Criminalized
Trafficking Victims

In a major blow to survivors of human trafficking, the US Department of Justice has announced that it will no longer allow funding to be used to help survivors get legal representation to clear their criminal records that resulted from their victimization. The decision by the Office for Victims of Crime will affect $77 million of human trafficking grants this year.

The abrupt policy reversal was initiated by the Trump administration and goes against the consensus of survivors, advocates, and law enforcement.  The new funding restrictions are expected to go into effect in just a couple of weeks.

In an opinion piece in The Hill, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney, and Kate Mogulescu, an Assistant Professor of Clinical Law at Brooklyn Law School, write:

It is widely acknowledged that victims are frequently arrested when they are trafficked.  A 2016 National Survivor Network survey found that over 91 percent of respondents reported having been arrested, over 40 percent reported being arrested 9 times or more.

No one questions the detrimental impact this has on survivors’ ability to move forward.  Criminal records act as concrete barriers for survivors, and lead to denial of employment, housing, and other services.  Furthermore, the message to survivors living with criminal records because of their trafficking is clear — you did something wrong, you deserve this, this will live with you forever.

That’s why Manhattan prosecutors screen every prostitution arrest for evidence of trafficking and dismiss prostitution cases after individuals receive counseling sessions and other services.

But the most effective legal response to correct the injustice of past convictions is vacatur or expungement, laws that provide survivors a way to clear their record of charges they were convicted of that were a result of trafficking.  New York was the first state to pass such a law in 2009, and almost every state in the country has taken some steps toward relieving survivors of the burden of a criminal record since then.

In one example, Vance and Mogulescu point to the case of a young woman who was sex trafficked for five years in New York, starting when she was just 16.  During that time, she was arrested for prostitution six times.

Yet, because of collaboration between the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the Brooklyn Law School, her convictions were vacated, ensuring that she would she would not be haunted by them for the rest of her life.

Prosecutors have come to rely on partner organizations to help identify trafficking victims and bring vacatur motions or expungement petitions.  Under the new funding rules, victims who can’t access legal representation will be forced to file petitions on their own — a significant burden to those seeking justice.

As Vance and Mogulescu conclude, this policy will have tremendous impact on the ability for trafficking survivors to simply live their lives:

“Funding for this work is critical — for the survivor trafficked into prostitution over two decades ago, who has focused on her education, earned a Masters degree in counseling, but is prohibited from taking a state licensure exam because of her criminal record;  for the survivor parent of a nine-year-old child who faces humiliation at being fingerprinted to chaperone a school trip;  for the survivor who secures an entry level service sector job but has the offer rescinded when a background check reveals her criminal record.”

Justice Served To Purveyors Of Child Porn In NY

Carthage Woman Sentenced to 90 Years for Child Pornography Production

Tammy Martin and Co-defendant Clif Seaway Filmed the Abuse of Three Child Victims

SYRACUSE, NY  –  Tammy M. Martin, age 48, of Carthage, New York, was sentenced today to serve 90 years in prison for her conviction on three counts of sexual exploitation of a child, announced United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Kevin M. Kelly, Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The sentencing today follows Martin’s earlier plea of guilty during which she admitted that on at least 4 separate occasions in 2002, she and co-defendant Clif Seaway engaged the first of the 3 victims in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depictions.  This criminal conduct resulted in the production of at least 30 separate files depicting the child engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Martin further admitted to the abuse of a second victim on at least 14 separate occasions from 2001 through 2007, producing at least 104 separate files depicting that abuse.

Finally, Martin admitted that on at least 26 occasions from 2004 through 2008, she and Seaway engaged the third of their victims in sexually explicit conduct, producing at least 211 separate files of that abuse.

Martin was sentenced to serve the maximum sentence allowable under federal law, consisting of 30 years of imprisonment on each count of conviction to be served consecutively to one another.  If Martin is ever released from prison, she is sentenced to a term of supervised release for life, and required to register as a sex offender.

“Over a seven year period, Tammy Martin and Clif Seaway sexually exploited three children, and the 90-year sentence imposed reflects the depravity and gravity of those crimes,” said United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith.  “Our commitment to prosecutions to protect children and secure just punishment for their predators is unwavering, and we continue to seek sentences which ensure that those predators will never harm another child.”

“Today’s sentence clearly demonstrates the serious nature with which the law enforcement community views crimes committed against children,” said Kevin Kelly, Special Agent in charge of HSI Buffalo.  “HSI and our partners will continue to be relentless in the aggressive pursuit of these cases, and the significant prison term handed down is an appropriate one and should serve as a stark warning about the consequences awaiting those involved in these acts.”

For his part in the abuse of these and other children, Clif Seaway was sentenced on May 3, 2018 to serve 360 years in prison.

Martin’s case was investigated by the New York State Police, and the United States Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa Fletcher, Project Safe Childhood Coordinator for the Northern District of New York, and Carina Schoenberger.

Launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice, Project Safe Childhood is led by 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 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 https://www.justice.gov/psc

Child Porn Sting Nets 660 Felony Charges

Disney, Legoland employees arrested in
Child Porn sting

TAMPA, FL  –  Florida detectives arrested 10 men, one a project manager at Walt Disney World, and a 16-year-old boy as part of an undercover child pornography investigation.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday the arrests were made in connection with possession, promotion and distribution of child porn.

The suspects face at least 660 felony charges, according to the sheriff’s office.
“Most of the images we saw during this investigation depicted children being sexually battered, that we have seen before — which means we haven’t yet identified any local child victims, but as always, that is also a part of our investigation,” Sheriff Grady Judd said in a news release.

Here’s a look at the 11 arrested:

One of the men arrested, Roger Catey, worked as a project manager at Walt Disney World.  A spokesperson from Disney World said that Catey was employed there until Monday, but wasn’t able to confirm if he was fired.  Catey, 53, is charged with 24 counts of possession of child pornography and two counts of promotion of sexual performance by a child.

Another man arrested, Rickie Vargas-Garcia, told investigators he’s a builder for Merlin Entertainment’s Legoland.  Vargas-Garcia, 30, is charged with 10 counts of possession of child pornography.

Edward Zabrowski III, 48, is charged with 64 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of the promotion of sexual performance by a child.

Richard Cousins, 64, is charged with 164 counts of possession of child pornography and three counts of promotion of sexual performance by a child.

Bruce Nopper, 51, is charged with 12 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of promotion of sexual performance by a child.

Don Carrier, 84, is charged with 200 counts of possession of child pornography.

Matthew Sentz, 35, is charged with 100 counts of possession of child pornography.

Jarrod Whitting, 24, is charged with 14 counts of possession of child pornography.

Alejandro Baltzar II, 20, is charged with 55 counts of possession of child pornography.

Donald Marich, 69, is charged with 16 counts of possession of child pornography and three counts of promotion of sexual performance by a child.

The 16-year-old boy arrested is charged with 12 counts of possession of child pornography.