CONCORD, NH – Robert Severance, 61, of Manchester, pleaded guilty in federal court on Monday to distributing and possessing child pornography, United States Attorney Scott W. Murray announced today.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on July 15, 2019, the Manchester Police Department (“MPD”) received a tip previously submitted to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by the social media website Instagram. The tip reported that on June 6, 2019 a file uploaded to Instagram was identified as a Child Sexual Abuse Image. MPD investigators later determined that the Instagram account was associated with Severance, who was a registered sex offender in Manchester, New Hampshire.
MPD investigators spoke with Severance at his residence in Manchester on July 22, 2019. He voluntarily went to the MPD and consented to an interview. Severance admitted to creating the Instagram account and explained that he portrayed himself as a 15-year-old female in order to talk with other young females. He stated that he had a laptop at home and admitted to receiving thousands of pictures and/or videos of child pornography via email.
A search warrant executed at Severance’s home the following day resulted in the seizure of numerous electronic devices and other media items. Forensic review of all items seized from the defendant revealed thousands of images and over one hundred videos of child pornography.
Severance is scheduled to be sentenced on March 1, 2021.
“Few missions of law enforcement are more important than protecting our children,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. “We are committed to working closely with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute all of those who are involved in the exploitation of children. In order to keep Granite State children safe, we will not hesitate to bring federal criminal charges against those who distribute child pornography.”
“The NH ICAC continues to remain committed in the fight against child sexual exploitation on the internet,” said Lieutenant John Peracchi, Commander of the New Hampshire Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (“NH ICAC”), “The NH ICAC would like to remind parents to remain vigilant, especially during these unprecedented times with COVID-19 where the NH ICAC continues to see a rise in the number of cases reported.”
“Mr. Severance’s blatant disregard for the wellbeing of some of our most vulnerable citizens, is extremely concerning,” said Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg. “His actions are disturbing and intolerable. Manchester police detectives dedicated a great deal of effort into this investigation and for that they should be commended. As a result of their efforts this matter has been resolved and should serve as a deterrent to others who choose to engage in such criminal behavior.”
This matter was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the NH Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the Manchester Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kasey Weiland.
In February 2006, the Department of Justice introduced Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices, 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 identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.