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Guilty plea is entered in child pornography case

City News Service | 5/17/2019, midnight

A 20-year-old Canyon County man pleaded guilty this week to a federal charge of distribution of child pornography, a felony carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of five years behind bars.

Justin Schobey used the internet chat app Kik to share, with a minor, videos depicting children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn Andrews told the court.

“The children depicted in these digital video files are real children,'' Andrews said.

Asked by U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer to say in his own words what he had done, Schobey responded, “I distributed child pornography. I sent it,'' and admitted that he knew the videos depicted minors.

The charge of distribution of child pornography carries a possible sentence of five years to life in federal prison, plus life under supervised release, restitution and a $5,000 special assessment, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Fischer scheduled sentencing for Sept. 23.

A three-count indictment filed last year in Los Angeles federal court charged Schobey with production, distribution and possession of child pornography. Prosecutors said he used text messages to coerce a boy in another state to produce child pornography.

Schobey was arrested last September as part of an FBI-led sweep targeting child exploitation crimes.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the internet has greatly increased the availability of child pornography, and digital equipment has made it relatively easy to create, distribute and collect such images.

“But underlying each case in which an individual uses technology, there is a young victim who was abused, molested or coerced to engage in sexual activity to fulfill the deviant interests of a perpetrator,'' federal prosecutors said in a statement. “Every child exploitation prosecution is designed to end this horrific behavior, to stop the cycle of abuse, and to bring offenders to justice.''