PORTLAND, Maine: A Standish man pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Portland to the attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor.
According to court records, in March 2022, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office received reports that an individual later identified as John Wilson, 36, had engaged in inappropriate conversations with at least two minor children using the internet and social media. In June 2022, Wilson engaged in sexually explicit online chat communications with members of a watchdog group posing as underage girls. During one sexually explicit online chat, Wilson sent photographs of his penis and live-streamed a video of himself masturbating to someone he believed to be an 11-year-old girl.
Wilson faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and up to three years of supervised release. He will be sentenced after the completion of a presentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office. A federal district judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Homeland Security Investigations and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.
Reports of child sexual exploitation are increasing: In 2021, The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) CyberTipline received 29.3 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation, an increase of 35% from 2020 and 73% from 2019. From 2019 to 2021, reports of “Online Enticement of Children for Sexual Acts” increased more than 130% while reports of “Unsolicited Obscene Material Sent to a Child” increased 220%. Victimization can take place across every platform, including social media, messaging apps, gaming platforms, etc. To make a CyberTipline Report, visit https://report.cybertip.org/.
Project Safe Childhood: 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 the Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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, visit www.justice.gov/psc.
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