Canadian girls among victims in U.S. child porn case that landed 7 men in prison

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Seven men from around the U.S. have been given prison sentences ranging from 15 to 40 years for their role in a child pornography conspiracy that included victims from Canada.

The men pleaded guilty to participating in a porn production ring that involved tricking and pressuring girls — some as young as 10 years old — into producing pornographic material, the U.S. Justice Department said in a press release.

According to court documents, the men and their conspirators outside the U.S. used a specially designed password-protected website to target social media profiles of young girls.

The website’s members then pretended to be minor boys and girls, and showed their targets pre-recorded videos of under-age girls engaging in sexually explicit activity. Those videos were used to peer pressure victims into also engaging in such activity on camera.

The girls were unaware that the people pressuring them were adult men, rather than similarly aged boys and girls.

Videos extracted from the girls were then stored on the cloud and made available for download to the website’s members.

Some 91 victims have been identified from 28 U.S. states and Canada; it’s not clear how many of them were from Canada.

The stiffest sentence was handed to Brandon Gresette, a 33-year-old cook from South Carolina who went by the online name “Samisbae.” He was sentenced to 40 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release.

The defendants were also ordered to pay $10,000 to one victim and $98,715 to another victim. Some of the men were also ordered to pay additional restitution amounts to other victims.

“Today’s sentencings involve another example of a disturbing and reprehensible new trend: the ‘crowdsourcing’ of child exploitation,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski. “Through malicious trickery and technical sophistication, these men worked together over the course of many months pretending to be minor boys and girls in order to target and entice vulnerable minor girls–some as young as 10 years old — into producing child pornography.

The prosecutions send a message to child predators that even technologically sophisticated means won’t protect them from investigators, U.S. Attorney Sherri Lydon added.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide program launched in 2006 to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.

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