10-Year Sentence for Barre Man Who Sexually Exploited a Child Over the Internet

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Alexander Chase, 25, of Barre, Vermont, was sentenced today to serve 121 months in prison, followed by a 20-year term of supervised release, for child exploitation crimes, including obtaining images from a child victim and distributing them to others via email.  United States District Judge William K. Sessions also ordered Chase to pay $3,000 of restitution to the victim of the offense.

According to court records and proceedings, in the summer of 2019, Chase posed as a 14-year-old boy on a child chat website.  Chase began corresponding with a 10-year-old girl from Pennsylvania on the chat platform, eventually transitioning to the use of email.  Chase sent the girl a photo of his own genitalia and asked for images of her genitalia in return.  In response, the 10-year-old child sent pictures of her vagina.  Chase then asked the girl for her to pose in a particular manner using a marker or pen as a sexual implement, which led the girl to respond with a picture of herself engaged in conduct similar to what Chase had requested.  During the email correspondence, Chase asked the girl if she would be able to get to Vermont and meet him at his location to engage in sexual contact.  

Chase’s emails led to a notification by the email service provider to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  NCMEC notified the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children task force, who in turn notified Homeland Security Investigations in Derby, Vermont.  HSI obtained a search warrant for Chase’s email account, and through its contents and other investigative steps, determined Chase was the likely user of the account.  The email contents revealed Chase had distributed the child pornography of the 10-year-old child to others.  Chase also had received additional images of child pornography through his email account.  

HSI’s investigation revealed Chase was living at a residence in Barre, Vermont.  On September 18, 2020, HSI executed a search warrant at Chase’s residence, resulting in the seizure of electronics which were subsequently determined to contain additional child pornography.  The electronic devices also had evidence corroborating that Chase had enticed the 10-year-old victim to send the images.  At the time of the criminal conduct for which Chase was sentenced today, Chase was subject to probationary supervision for a prior conviction for Lewd and Lascivious Conduct in Caledonia County, Vermont related to the sexual abuse of young children.

Acting United States Attorney Jonathan A. Ophardt commended the coordinated investigatory efforts of the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the Office of the District Attorney of Butler County, Pennsylvania in this matter.  “Online sexual predators who exploit children through deceit and manipulation cause significant harm to the children they victimize.  These criminals may not leave behind physical scars, but they nonetheless leave wakes of trauma, necessitating substantial therapy and support to assist survivors in their recovery.  Once disseminated on the internet, these images are often shared over and over, exacerbating the victimization that these children experience.”

“Chase deceived and coerced a child to obtain exploitative imagery. With our partners on the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children task force, HSI is working to protect our children online and ensure those who seek to prey on them face consequences,” said Matthew Millhollin, Special Agent in Charge for the Homeland Security Investigations’ Boston Field Office.

Acting United States Attorney Jonathan A. Ophardt handled the prosecution.  Chase was represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Steven Barth, Esq.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and Child Exploitation Obscenity Section, Criminal Division (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

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