Child pornography investigation spans from Harris County to UK, nets 4 arrests
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A multi-agency investigation that spanned from Harris County to the United Kingdom since 2009 has culminated in three arrests connected to child pornography.
It all started with one arrest in Harris County, thanks to a tip from a local mother. That man's computer records led to the arrests and convictions of three others -- a school headmaster in the UK, a U.S. military service member and a military civilian employee.
The Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office of High Tech Crimes, in conjunction with the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, received a Cybertip in October 2009.
According to officials, the tip came from a woman who claimed she had a chat room conversation with a male who identified himself as Jeff Clark. Clark reportedly indicated he was interested in talking about "taboo" sexual topics, and he asked the woman if she had any children. Authorities said the woman told Clark she had a daughter. According to investigators, Clark replied that he was sexually attracted to girls as young as six.
Clark made statements indicating that he wanted to sexually engage the woman's daughter, officials said, and that's when the tipster ended the conversation and contacted authorities. Their conversations continued via email, and the woman was able to get Clark's phone number. She provided all of this information to investigators, officials said.
Investigators with Pct. 4 used various investigative processes to isolate the offender to a house in the Spring area along Cypresswood Drive. They identified him as Jeffrey Thomas Clark, 32.
As his conversations continued with the tipster, Clark reportedly proposed meeting her and her daughter at Collins Park on Cypresswood Drive so he could have sex with the child. Their meeting never happened, though. Instead, deputies arrested him and booked him into Harris County Jail on charges of attempted aggravated sexual assault of a child under age 14.
Clark's computer and media were recovered and turned over for forensic examination. The analysis found several organized folders containing a sizeable amount of child pornography. Also located were chat logs which Clark used to communicate with others online, and some 40 different profiles were identified whose operators had a an "obvious sexual attraction to children," officials said.
Pct. 4 deputies contacted their counterparts with other Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in an effort to identify the offenders on that list. They worked tirelessly from roughly April 2010 through April 2013. It was a combined effort with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United Kingdom's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center and West Yorkshire Police Department, the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations and several other state, local, and federal agencies.
Ultimately, three men were identified, arrested, charged and found guilty of possession and promotion of child pornography:
Officials said Clark had engaged in numerous conversations with a chat profile presumed to belong to a 30-year-old woman with two daughters. They discussed sexual scenarios involving children in "minute, graphic, and horrific detail," authorities said. Investigators traced that profile to York, United Kingdom. Authorities there identified the real operator as 52-year-old John Hardcastle, a high school headmaster.
Police searched Hardcastle's computer and found images of child pornography and bestiality, both of which are illegal to possess in the UK. Hardcastle pleaded guilty and eventually was sentenced via plea agreement to three years community supervision and a sex offender program. He was barred from working with children ever again.
Officials said Clark conversed with another chat profile presumed to be a pre-teen or teenage girl who was being molested and photographed by her father. The operator of the profile also indicated she was having sexual relations with friends of her father's. Photos were shared between this person and Clark, officials said.
Investigators traced the profile to an IP address belonging to the U.S. military, and military investigators were able to identify the operator of the account as Airman Patrick Daniel Quinsland, 26, out of Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. They found child pornography in Quinsland's possession, and he was court martialed. Officials said he pleaded guilty on March 26 and was sentenced to two and a half years in a military prison. He also received a reduction in rank to the lowest enlisted grade and a dishonorable discharge. He will be subject to civilian sex offender registration requirements, authorities said.
According to authorities, Clark had several chats from 2009 through 2010 with the operator of a profile who professed to be a teenage female. These chats were "prolific, disturbing, and sexually graphic on both parties," Pct. 4 officials said. Child pornographic pictures were exchanged between Clark and the operator of the profile.
This account was also traced to an IP address in the care of the military. Military investigators traced the account to Freddie Sizemore, 38, of Florida. Sizemore was working in a civilian capacity for the U.S. Army at the Ronald Reagan Missile Defense Test Site located on Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, in the South Pacific Ocean. His computers and associated equipment were seized, and Sizemore confessed to using the account to distribute and receive child pornography.
Sizemore was arrested and charged in the United States District Court of Hawaii, and eventually pleaded guilty in March, receiving a sentence of 84 months and lifetime registration as a sex offender.
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