Middleton Man Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison for Distribution and Possession of Child Pornography

BOISE – Colton Dune Turner, 20, of Middleton, was sentenced to twelve years in federal prison for distribution and possession of child pornography, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez, Jr. today. Chief U.S. District Judge David C. Nye also ordered Turner to serve 25 years of supervised release following his prison sentence. Turner pleaded guilty to the charges on April 13, 2021.

According to court records, the investigation began after the online platform MeWe reported that three MeWe accounts had been used to distribute child pornography in July, August, and September 2019. An investigator with the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (CCPA) investigated the reports and determined that the accounts belonged to Turner. The CCPA investigator obtained search warrants for the MeWe accounts, and located 218 images of child pornography, including images depicting prepubescent minors, toddlers, and infants. The CCPA investigator also located evidence showing that Turner used the accounts to distribute child pornography, including explicit images of an eight-year-old child that he had taken with his cellphone.

The CCPA investigator obtained a search warrant for Turner’s residence in Middleton and his cellphone. The CCPA, and other members of law enforcement, served the search warrant on November 13, 2019, and seized Turner’s cellphone. A forensic examination of the cellphone revealed over 600 images of child pornography, including the explicit images that Turner had taken of the eight-year-old child.

At sentencing, Judge Nye also ordered Turner to pay restitution of $57,000 to victims in the images he possessed. As a result of conviction, Turner will be required to register as a sex offender.

Acting U.S. Attorney Gonzalez credited the cooperative efforts of the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the Middleton Police Department, which led to charges.  “This is a particularly egregious case involving an adult using an online platform to exploit dozens of children,” said Mr. Gonzalez. “I commend these investigators for aggressively pursuing this defendant and holding him accountable.  We continue to urge parents, teachers, caregivers, young people, and businesses to be vigilant in reporting these types of crimes to law enforcement,” he concluded.

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. As part of Project Safe Childhood, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho and the Idaho Attorney General’s Office partner to marshal 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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