LOS ANGELES – A Southern California man has been sentenced to nearly two decades in federal prison for advertising child pornography in a members-only online chatroom for people with a sexual interest in infants and toddlers.
Angelo Harper Jr., 21, was sentenced on Monday to 235 months in prison and lifetime supervised release by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
Harper was convicted of advertising child pornography after a trial in July. Harper also pleaded guilty in July to distributing child pornography and possession of child pornography.
The evidence presented at trial showed that Harper used the Kik Messenger social media platform to access a chatroom for those interested in nepiophilia, which is a sexual interest in infants and toddlers.
Last year, an agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations entered the chatroom using an undercover Kik account, and accessed several postings about child pornography – made by an individual later identified as Harper – which included images depicting child pornography and a link to an explicit video.
At one point, Harper wrote: “I have tons of pics and vids of little boys and girls. Pm me for chat and trade of kids under 6 [winking face emoji].”
“Pedophiles who use technology to share child pornography re-victimize each child and perpetuate the market for this criminal behavior,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker.
“This case highlights the fact that defendants like this one will not escape prosecution by hiding in the dark corners of the Internet.”
As a result of the investigation, HSI agents seized numerous digital devices from Harper that contained child pornography, and Harper admitted to using Kik to transmit child pornography. In total federal agents seized approximately 9,000 images of child pornography and over 500 videos.
“This lengthy sentence should serve as a sobering warning about the consequences facing those who use the internet to traffic in child pornography and sexually exploit their innocent, helpless victims,” said Edward Owens, acting special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Los Angeles.
“The perversion of the perpetrators involved in these egregious crimes is frankly appalling and must be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”