Indianapolis, IN–(ENEWSPF)– Joseph H. Hogsett, United States Attorney, Southern District of Indiana, and A. Brant Cook, Assistant U.S. Attorney, announced that Philip R. Collins, 47, Hillsboro, Ind., was sentenced to 90 months in prison yesterday by U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker following his guilty plea to distribution and possession of child pornography. This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Indiana State Police.
The prosecution of Collins is part of the ongoing fight to protect children under Project Safe Childhood. Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006. Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims of child exploitation. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
According to U. S. Attorney Hogsett, the investigation of Collins began in August 2009, when Collins engaged in internet chat with an FBI task force officer working undercover online. The internet chats between Collins and the task force officer continued sporadically over the course of the following several months. Though Collins made several comments during the chats indicating a sexual interest in children, he gave no indication of any specific plans to act out his interests, and did not otherwise engage in any criminal activity. On March 3, 2010, however, Collins claimed during one of the internet chat conversations that he planned to engage in sexual activity with a minor he would be supervising the following evening. FBI worked quickly to identify Collins, and, along with the Indiana State Police, sought him out at his workplace in Crawfordsville, Ind., early the next evening, March 4, 2010. Earlier in the day, prior to agents’ arrival, Collins distributed several images of child pornography to the task force officer with whom he had been chatting online. Law enforcement did not find any evidence that Collins had acted on his stated plan to engage in sexual activity with a child that evening, but did find that Collins had a collection of child pornography. He was arrested and subsequently prosecuted.
Judge Barker also imposed lifetime supervised release following Collins’s release from prison. During the period of supervised release, Collins must participate in sex offender treatment, may not have unsupervised contact with any minor child, and must register as a sex offender, in addition to other conditions.
Hogsett praised the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Brant Cook, who prosecuted the case for the government. “The penalties for distributing child pornography are quite serious,” noted Cook. “Trafficking in such images is a devastating re-victimization of the children depicted, and those who seek out and view these images are fueling a dangerous sexual interest in children. It is extremely important that these individuals be held accountable in order to bring some justice to the children depicted in these images, as well as to protect Indiana’s children who are within reach of these offenders.”
Judge Barker authorized Collins’ continued release with supervision pending his assignment to a Bureau of Prisons facility.