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An Iowa man pleaded guilty today in the District of Massachusetts to federal child exploitation charges moments before his jury trial was scheduled to begin this morning.
Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts and Acting Inspector in Charge Shelly Binkowski of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) made the announcement.
Joshua Dunfee , 32, of Oxford Junction, Iowa, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Patti B. Saris to the coercion and enticement of a child to engage in illicit sexual activity and the sexual exploitation of a child to produce child pornography. Sentencing is scheduled for June 27, 2014.
Dunfee posed as “John” from “Hunt Photography” on Facebook and communicated with a Massachusetts mother who was seeking employment as a model and believed Hunt Photography to be a legitimate business. In October 2011, Dunfee contacted the mother and told her that Hunt Photography had a client willing to pay $20,000 for a mother-daughter bikini modeling contract. Dunfee told the mother that in order to apply she would need to audition her daughter for him immediately and persuaded the mother to take her minor daughter out of school.
At Dunfee’s further direction, the mother placed her daughter on webcam for him to view for a 48-minute video call. During this time, Dunfee was able to see and hear the mother and her minor daughter, but they were unable to see or hear him. During the “audition,” Dunfee directed via instant messenger that the minor be posed for him—first in a bra and underwear and then completely naked. Dunfee knew that the girl was a minor.
On Nov. 3, 2011, federal agents executed a search warrant at Dunfee’s residence, where law enforcement had traced the illicit conduct via IP address records. A forensic examination of Dunfee’s computers (obtained during the execution of the search warrant) revealed various activities consistent with the use of certain platforms to communicate while posing as Hunt Photography, including Facebook, Skype and Windows Live Messenger Chat.
The case was investigated by law enforcement in Massachusetts, the USPIS, the Jones County, Iowa, Sheriff’s Office, the Massachusetts State Police, the Attleboro Police Department and the Department of Justice High Technology Investigative Unit. Substantial assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Iowa.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Herbrina Sanders of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacy Dawson Belf of the District of Massachusetts’s Major Crimes Unit.
This case is brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, which is a nationwide initiative created by the Department of Justice in 2006 that is designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.