Credit: U.S. Attorney’s Office information
Jessie Edward Winters, 39, was sentenced today to over 17 years for distributing child sexual abuse material through a mobile messaging application. U.S. District Court Judge Sharion Aycock sentenced Winters to 210 months in federal prison for the offense to be followed by 10 years of supervised release. Restitution to victims depicted in the materials will be determined at a later hearing.
The investigation began after the Department of Homeland Security received information from the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children that a mobile messaging application user was distributing images and videos of child sexual abuse material. Independently, the Oxford Police Department received similar information from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The agencies coordinated an investigation that revealed Winters used the application on his cell phone to engage with other users in a chat group in distributing and receiving the material. Winters possessed over 200 images and 200 videos, some involving prepubescent children.
“The distribution of child pornography is a particularly reprehensible crime, and the defendant deserves every minute of every day of this sentence,” said U.S. Attorney Clay Joyner. “This conviction and sentence highlight the combined efforts of our state and local partners with federal investigators and prosecutors to hold accountable those who take pleasure in the sexual abuse of children.”
“This sentence sends a clear message that there are serious consequences for those who prey upon children. Winters will serve close to 20 years in federal prison for his heinous acts,” said HSI New Orleans Acting Special Agent in Charge Eric DeLaune. “HSI, with its unique international authorities, works tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to protect children from exploitation, here at home and around the world.”
The Department of Homeland Security and the Oxford Police Department investigated the case, with assistance from the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Addison prosecuted the case.
This case involved the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline system and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC). ICAC is a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to protect children on the Internet. The Mississippi ICAC Task Force includes local, state, and Federal law enforcement and is managed by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office.
The prosecution was likewise brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched by the Department of Justice in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. 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, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.