Washington, DC - A member of an international child exploitation conspiracy was sentenced to 21 years in prison today for his participation in two websites that were operated for the purpose of coercing and enticing minors as young as eight years old to engage in sexually explicit conduct on web camera.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia and Section Chief Calvin A. Shivers of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children Section (VCACS) made the announcement.
Brian K. Hendrix, 42, of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia, who also ordered Hendrix to serve a 10 year term of supervised release. Hendrix will also be required to register as a sex offender. In January, Hendrix was convicted at trial by a federal jury on child pornography charges. The investigation, Operation Subterfuge, identified more than 300 minor victims in the United States and an estimated 1,600 minor victims were lured to the websites.
According to evidence presented at trial, Hendrix’s co-conspirators created false profiles on social networking sites, such as YouTube, posing as young teenagers to lure children to the websites they controlled. Once children were on the conspirators’ websites, the conspirators, including Hendrix, showed the children pre-recorded videos of prior minor victims, often engaging in sexually explicit conduct, to make the new victims think that they were chatting with another minor. Using these videos, Hendrix and co-conspirators coerced and enticed children to engage in sexually explicit activity on their own web cameras, which the website automatically recorded. Conspirators earned points based on their contribution to the success of website objectives, which allowed them access to the sexually exploitative videos of children. Several of these sexually exploitative videos were found on digital devices belonging to Hendrix. Law enforcement agencies have disabled both websites.
Trial Attorney Lauren Britsch of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Doherty-McCormick of the Eastern District of Virginia prosecuted the case. CEOS Trial Attorney Ravi Sinha assisted with the prosecution.
VCACS special agents led the investigation with the assistance of the FBI’s Operation Rescue Me and the FBI’s Digital Analysis and Research Center. The South Africa Police Service, Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offenses, Gauteng; Dutch Police Service Agency, KLPD; Royal Canadian Mounted Police, National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre; and the Australian Federal Police, Child Protection Operations, Sydney were active partners in the investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Tennessee contributed to the investigation and the prosecution.
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 CEOS, 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, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.