Jury convicts county man on child pornography charges
Special to the Enquirer
A federal jury convicted a Morgan County man Oct. 5 of using Internet applications to seek images, videos and live transmissions of the violent sexual abuse of Filipina children as young as 5 years old.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Benjamin Walter, 41, of Decatur, used two web service provider accounts, including messenger and webcam applications, to get women in the Philippines to sexually abuse their own children and relatives.
Walter’s requests to these women, which spanned approximately three years, included directions to arrange for the gang rape of young children and to sexually assault several young children in other harmful ways.
Walter sent money to the Philippines for these videos, images and live transmissions via MoneyGram, Western Union and other money remitters in $25-50 increments.
In addition to the live webcam shows, Walter also sent and received emails to which the senders attached images and videos of young children engaged in sex acts with adult men.
This investigation was part of a joint FBI and Homeland Security Investigations operation that targeted the buyers and sellers of these types of webcam shows in the Philippines.
“Today’s conviction sends a clear message that the protection of the most innocent and vulnerable victims, our children, from child exploitation is of the utmost importance,” said U.S. Attorney Prim Escalona. “The jury’s decision to hold the defendant accountable for his conduct and to reject his defenses demonstrates that those who commit these horrific crimes will be met with swift and certain justice.
“We are grateful for the work of the FBI Birmingham Division, FBI Huntsville Resident Agency, for their investigation of this case,” Escalona added, “and for the assistance of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section in prosecuting the case.”
Walter was convicted of four counts of producing and attempting to produce child pornography and one count each of receiving and distributing child pornography. Sentencing is set for Jan. 5, 2022.
Walter faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years of imprisonment and a maximum of 160 years of imprisonment.
Trial attorneys Charles Schmitz and Nadia Prinz of the Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Leann R. White of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama are prosecuting the case.
This case was 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 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.
To report suspicious activity or instances of child sexual exploitation, contact a local FBI field office or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov. Reports can also be filed with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children or online at www.cybertipline.org.
For more information on the FBI’s guidance on child exploitation and protecting children visit www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/protecting-your-kids.