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Federal Government
Roxboro Man Gets 40 Year Sentence For Child Porn Convictions PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Tuesday, 20 August 2019 08:49
Andre Alan Thorpe, 36, of Roxboro was sentenced to 480 months’ imprisonment, followed by lifetime of supervised release after he pleaded guilty on May 2, 2019, to production of child pornography and possession of child pornography.
 
From around 2013 until April 29, 2016, Thorpe sexually abused a minor boy. Using his position as a leader of a church pantomime group, Thorpe developed a relationship with the victim and then used drugs and manipulation to groom and control the victim.
 
The victim’s family eventually moved out of state in part to escape Thorpe. 
 
In 2015, Thorpe arranged for the victim to return to North Carolina, where he continued to sexually abuse the then-fifteen-year-old. The victim returned home, but Thope again transported the victim back to North Carolina in February 2016. On April 25, 2016, while participating in a church event in Raleigh, Thorpe  took the victim to a Raleigh residence, where he had sexual contact with the victim and photographed it. The victim, age sixteen, was recovered in Thorpe's ’s company on April 29, 2016. Law enforcement subsequently recovered the images of child pornography from THORPE’s cellular phone.
 
U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon said, "We are very pleased that the Court saw fit to sentence Andre Alan Thorpe to some 40 years in federal prison. The victim in this case – and the victim’s family – have been terrorized. As the result of the Court’s sentence this defendant’s life as a predator stops now!”
 
This case was part of the Project Safe Childhood initiative, a national program aimed at ensuring that criminals exploiting children are effectively prosecuted by making full use of all available law enforcement resources at every level. For more information about this important national project, Project Safe Childhood, go to www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
 
Investigation of this case was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations and the Raleigh Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Erin Blondel handled the prosecution of this case for the government.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 August 2019 09:10
 
41-Year-Old Child Molester Committed To Federal Custody As A Sexually Dangerous Person PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Tuesday, 30 July 2019 09:32
Senior United States District Judge Malcolm J. Howard committed Jeremy E. Durkin, 41, to the custody of the Attorney General as a sexually dangerous person under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.
 
Durkin has an extensive history of sexually molesting minors and failing to comply with the terms of incarceration and supervision. During his teenage years, he sexually molested multiple children, including a toddler as young as two years old. For years, Durkin avoided detection of these assaults.
 
During his early twenties, he  sexually molested a young boy on multiple occasions when the boy was between the ages of six and nine. Durkin instructed the boy not to tell anyone about the assaults. These assaults were reported to law enforcement, and when Durkin learned of this, he fled from the state of his residence and lived on the run for approximately four months. He was ultimately apprehended, prosecuted by the State of Idaho, convicted, and sentenced to serve three (3) to ten (10) years in the Idaho Department of Corrections.
 
In June 2009, Durkin  was released on parole. Within approximately six months of his release—and while on probation— DURKIN was at it again. He used his work computer to contact a fifteen-year-old boy in another state via Facebook, and the two began communicating via email, U.S. mail, and telephone.
 
These conversations swiftly became sexual in nature, and by early January 2010—less than seven months after being released from prison— DURKIN was sending nude and sexually provocative photos to the boy and receiving similar images in return. During this period of parole, DURKIN also viewed child pornography on his work computer at a hotel front desk and began using methamphetamine, a drug he had used regularly before his prison sentence. After just fifteen months in the community, DURKIN was sent back to a prison for an unrelated parole violation, but his sexual communications with the teenaged boy had not yet been detected. Even while back in Idaho prison, DURKIN continued to send sexually charged letters to the fifteen-year-old boy. When these communications were discovered, DURKIN was federally prosecuted and convicted of using interstate facilities to transmit information about a minor. He was sentenced to 81 months and 8 days in federal prison.
 
While in federal custody, DURKIN continued to engage in problematic behavior demonstrating his inability to control his sexual behavior. DURKIN was discovered to possess material containing images of children, summaries of books and movies about children, and references to sexually explicit material and websites. Just two weeks after this discovery, DURKIN was again discovered with magazines depicting images of children with exposed torsos, newspapers containing images of children, and hand-written notes containing sexually suggestive comments. Prison staff received multiple allegations that he was having inappropriate sexual contact with other inmates while in a sex-offender treatment program. Ultimately, he was expelled from treatment for his failure to comply with program requirements. During a recent psychological evaluation performed by a court-appointed psychologist, DURKIN admitted to having continuing sexual fantasies involving children while in federal prison.
 
DURKIN was scheduled for release from federal prison on December 4, 2019, but the United States certified him as a sexually dangerous person under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. Congress passed this Act in order to provide another powerful legal mechanism for protecting the public from some of the most dangerous sexual offenders. The Act allows the United States to seek civil commitment of sexually dangerous persons who, because of a serious mental illness, abnormality, or disorder, would have serious difficulty refraining from sexually violent conduct or child molestation.
 
The United States believed that DURKIN met every element of that definition. On July 18, 2019, and based on clear and convincing evidence presented during a bench trial, Judge Howard agreed. He committed DURKIN to the custody of the Attorney General as a sexually dangerous person.
 
In a written order, Judge Howard explained how the government had proven that DURKIN was sexually dangerous. At trial, three separate expert witnesses
concluded that DURKIN is sexually attracted to young children due to a serious mental disorder known as pedophilic disorder. DURKIN himself admitted that he was sexually attracted to children. Furthermore, Judge Howard found that DURKIN’s history of sexually offending against children, his difficulties in sex offender treatment, his sexual exploitation of a teenaged boy while on parole supervision, while being investigated for molesting his own son, and while back in state custody, as well as his possession of prohibited child-focused material while in a sex offender treatment program in prison together demonstrated that DURKIN would have serious difficulty refraining from sexually violent conduct or child molestation if released. The Court also explained that DURKIN inappropriately rationalizes and minimizes his sexual abuse of children, including claiming, as DURKIN did at trial, that he molested his victims because the victims, some as young as nine years old, wanted to engage in sexual behavior with him.
 
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina litigates all Adam Walsh Act cases for the entire country. All sexually dangerous persons who are committed to federal custody are housed in a federal facility in that district, where intensive, residential treatment is offered to them. DURKIN is the eighty-fourth sexually dangerous person committed under the Adam Walsh Act.
 
Special Assistant United States Attorney Michael E. Lockridge and Assistant United States Attorney John E. Harris represented the government in this case.
 
Tillis Introduces Bill Allowing Citizens To Sue Over Immigration Sanctuary Policies PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Donna Martinez   
Tuesday, 30 July 2019 09:13
Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act, legislation that holds sanctuary jurisdictions accountable for failing to comply with lawful detainer and release notification requests made by federal authorities and jeopardizing public safety. Joining Tillis as original co-sponsors are Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Ted Cruz (R-TX).
 
The legislation creates a private right of civil action for the victims of sanctuary jurisdictions, allowing them to bring an action for compensatory damages against the sanctuary jurisdiction as a result of a violent crime committed by an illegal immigrant. Any sanctuary city or jurisdiction that refuses to waive its immunity as it relates to sanctuary-related civil action would be subject to the withholding of certain Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding.
 
The Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act is a direct response to a growing number of sanctuary jurisdictions across the nation (including North Carolina’s Buncombe, Cumberland, Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Mecklenburg, and Wake Counties) that either have official sanctuary policies or are refusing to comply with detainer requests and release notifications from the Department of Homeland Security. 
 
Earlier this month, the Mecklenburg County (NC) Sheriff’s Office refused to notify ICE and comply with a lawful detainer request when it released a dangerous illegal immigrant from county jail who was charged with multiple domestic violence charges for strangling a woman and threatening to kill her. This was only one of more than 20 troubling instances this year of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office releasing potentially dangerous individuals after refusing to comply with detainer requests. The reckless sanctuary policy prompted criticism from the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. 
 
“It’s disturbing to see sheriffs across North Carolina establish sanctuary jurisdictions, releasing dangerous individuals back into communities while refusing to notify federal immigration officials,” said Senator Thom Tillis. “If politicians want to prioritize reckless sanctuary policies over public safety, they should also be willing to provide just compensation for the victims. The Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act is commonsense legislation that will enhance public safety and hold sanctuary jurisdictions accountable for their refusal to cooperate with federal law enforcement.”
 
“A good piece of legislation that is long overdue,” said Senator Lindsey Graham. “There must be consequences for governments and entities that gamble with public safety, refuse to work with federal officials, and refuse to deal with felons here illegally. This legislation empowers individuals who are the victims of these entities and governments’ poor decisions.”
 
“If state and local public officials jeopardize the safety and security of the American people by refusing to comply with federal immigration law, they should be held to account by our citizens when such reckless endangerment leads to more violent crime,” said Senator Chuck Grassley. “We are a nation of laws. Whether you are a citizen, immigrant or even a local government, disregarding those laws should carry consequences.”
 
“Sanctuary jurisdictions are failing to cooperate with law enforcement authorities, jeopardizing the safety of our communities,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Our commonsense bill will put a check on these sanctuary jurisdictions, provide a pathway for victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants to seek justice, and enhance and promote public safety.” 
 
“Our nation’s laws exist for a reason. When a sanctuary city or state recklessly decides to harbor illegal immigrants who may commit crimes against innocent Americans, the families of those victims deserve the right to seek compensation from those jurisdictions,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn. “It’s time we put the public safety of our citizens above the sanctuary of an immigrant who has come to our country illegally.”
 
“The American people, and Texas communities in particular, are tired of seeing our federal immigration laws flouted and criminal illegal immigrants enabled to commit future crimes and escape prosecution,” said Senator Ted Cruz. “Sanctuary cities and their policies are a dangerous affront to the rule of law, and only exasperate the crisis at our border. I am proud to join my colleagues in holding these jurisdictions accountable, and will continue working to enforce our federal immigration laws and ensure the safety and security of the American people.”
 
Major provisions of the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act of 2019
 
Defining a “Sanctuary Jurisdiction”
The legislation defines a sanctuary jurisdiction as any state or political subdivision (including a county or city) that has a statute, ordinance, policy, or practice that restricts a government official or entity from receiving or maintaining information about the immigration status of an individual, including refusing to comply with lawful detainer requests made by DHS or the notification of the release of an illegal immigrant. A jurisdiction would not be deemed a “sanctuary jurisdiction” based solely on policies where officials do not share information or comply with detainers for illegal immigrants who come forward as a victim or a witness to a criminal offense.
 
Establishing civil action for the victims or family members of crimes committed by illegal immigrants benefitting from a sanctuary policy
The legislation establishes a private right of action for any individual, spouse, or child who is a victim a violent crime or felony that was a result of a sanctuary jurisdiction failing to comply with a lawful request made by the Department of Homeland Security and refused to comply with a detainer or notify DHS about the release of an illegal immigrant.
 
Withholding grant funding for jurisdictions that refuse to comply with lawful requests 
The legislation requires any state or political subdivision of a state to waive immunity as it relates to sanctuary-related civil action as a condition of receiving Community Development Block Grant funds (CDBG) and certain Economic Development Administration grants. The failure to waive immunity on sanctuary-related civil action will result in the withholding of grants for public works, grants related to planning administrative expenses, and grants for training, research, and technical assistance.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 July 2019 09:16
 
Jacksonville Man Indicted On Child Porn Charges PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Donna Martinez   
Tuesday, 30 July 2019 09:01
A Federal grand jury in Raleigh has returned a twelve-count indictment charging Morgan Jeffrey Shepard, age 32, of Jacksonville, North Carolina, with one count of producing child pornography, three counts of enticing a minor to engage in a sexual activity, seven counts of receipt of child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography.
 
The indictment alleges that beginning in or around September 2016, and continuing through in or around November 2016, Shepard persuaded and enticed a minor victim to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of creating child pornography. During the same dates, he is alleged to have enticed the same minor victim to engage in sexual activity that constituted sexual exploitation of a child under North Carolina state law.
 
The indictment alleges that between April 23 and April 27, 2018, Shepard enticed two additional minor victims to engage in criminal sexual activity. It further alleges that beginning at a time unknown and ending on July 13, 2017, SHEPARD received at least seven images containing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
 
Lastly, the indictment alleges that on July 13, 2017, Shepard was found to be in possession of digital media containing images and videos involving minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
 
If convicted of these charges, She would face a statutory minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment and a maximum sentence of up to life imprisonment. He also would face up to a lifetime of supervised release following any term of imprisonment.
 
This case is part of the Project Safe Childhood initiative, a national program aimed at ensuring that criminals exploiting children are effectively prosecuted by making full use of all available law enforcement resources at every level. For more information about this important national initiative, go to www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
 
The case is being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, the Craven County Sheriff’s Office, and the Wilmington Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Jake D. Pugh is prosecuting the case for the government.
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Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 July 2019 10:15
 
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