Thursday, 04 May 2017 13:59

Creator of Child Porn Website with Ties to Lenoir is Sentenced

Steven W. Chase Steven W. Chase courtesy of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Sheriff's Office

58-year-old Steven W. Chase of Naples, Florida, was sentenced Monday (May 1) to 30 years in prison, along with a lifetime term of supervised release.  The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Richard L. Voorhees of the Western District of North Carolina.  

On September 16 of last year, a federal jury found Chase guilty of one count each of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, advertising child pornography and possession of child pornography, plus three counts of transportation of child pornography.  The jury also returned a special verdict determining that Chase should be ordered to forfeit all property derived from, involved in or traceable to his criminal activities, including his residence in Naples.  

Evidence at trial established that beginning in August 2014, Chase created the Playpen website as a hidden service of the Tor anonymity network, which only permitted individuals operating on the network to access the site.  The Playpen website operated from a server in Lenoir.  Chase served as lead administrator of Playpen, through which he and more than 150,000 other members authored and viewed tens of thousands of postings involving the sexual abuse of children.  Website members employed advanced technological means in order to thwart law enforcement’s efforts, including elaborate file encryption.

Chase was arrested following a court-authorized search of his home in February of 2015.  Forensic examination of a computer and devices seized during the search revealed that Chase was in possession of thousands of images depicting the sexual abuse of children as young as infants and toddlers.

Two co-defendants both pleaded guilty in 2015 and were sentenced earlier this year.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit www.justice.gov/psc.

Read 557 times Last modified on Thursday, 04 May 2017 14:07

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