By Pacific Island Times News Staff
A former sailor who was stationed on Guam has been sentenced to five years and four months behind bars after being convicted of child pornography in federal court, U.S. Attorney Shawn N. Anderson announced today.
Anderson said Austin Dodge, 23, from Portland, Maine, will also serve a 10-year term of supervised release and register as a sex offender following his confinement in federal prison.
On April 22, 2020, an undercover FBI agent in Minneapolis, Minnesota, assumed the online identity of a person involved in trading child pornography on an application called "LiveMe." LiveMe is a free social media application that allows an individual to broadcast live video online.
LiveMe users can post comments and interact with people in the video. Users can also create or join groups called "fams," where like-minded individuals can chat or message other users, post videos, images, text, and send links directing users to Internet websites. In this case, the online identity the FBI undercover agent assumed control of was a member of several “fams" on LiveMe, where child pornography was traded either in chat or by posting links to a cloud file hosting service, such as Dropbox, for access and download.
Between April 22, 2020, and April 23, 2020, the FBI undercover agent accessed a LiveMe fam called "LoveCP." During the undercover agent's recorded session, the LoveCP group moderator posted group rules which included a requirement that members actively post, or they would be removed.
On the evening of April 22,2020 Central Standard Time, LiveMe SID 299614327 with the screen name "lucyliuc200," was granted access to the LoveCP group. Lucyliuc200, later identified as Dodge, then posted a link to a cloud-sharing internet site with the folder name titled, "live."
The undercover agent navigated to this posted link and downloaded the contents of the folder. The folder contained approximately 18 videos depicting adolescent and prepubescent females posing naked and engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Following the execution of a federal search warrant at Dodge’s residence on Naval Base Guam, agents discovered an additional video of child pornography on his computer tablet. This video depicted the only known victim of child sexual exploitation identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“This is the first advertisement case prosecuted in the District of Guam,” Anderson said. “It demonstrates the reach of federal law enforcement in combating this disturbing type of crime."
Anderson said the sentence imposed by the court is a strong message of accountability.
"Our office will pursue these cases whenever the evidence supports prosecution," he added.
“This sentence demonstrates the FBI’s commitment in identifying and investigating those who possess child pornography,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill. “As a result of this case, we have one less predator who can prey on, and can no longer exploit, the most vulnerable members of our society. The FBI is grateful to collaborate with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service as we remain committed in the fight to protect our children who are our nation’s future.”
This case was part of the Project Safe Childhood (PSC) Initiative, a nationwide initiative by the U.S. Department of Justice to aggressively prosecute people who engage in the sexual victimization of children, possess, or receive child pornography, and fail to register as sex offenders.