CHARLOTTE, N.C. – U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell sentenced today a repeat offender to 121 months in prison for possession of child pornography, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Robert Norris Forehand, 39, of Iron Station, N.C. was also ordered to serve a lifetime of supervised release, register as a sex offender after he is released from prison, and to pay $6,000 in restitution to victims and special assessments to the United States totaling $22,000.
“Child pornography is repugnant, devastates our moral standards, and injures some of the most vulnerable members of our society,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. “We have to protect children from offenders like Forehand, who continue to violate the law to satisfy their appetite for appalling images depicting the sexual abuse of children. Thanks to the efforts of the U.S. Probation Office, this repeat offender has been removed from society for a very long time, and can no longer cause harm to children.”
According to court documents and information introduced at the sentencing hearing, Forehand was convicted in 2009 in the Western District of North Carolina of possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to more than nine years in prison and was ordered to serve 10 years under court supervision. As part of his post-conviction release conditions, Forehand was prohibited from possessing any type of electronic device that could access the internet, and was ordered to undergo risk assessment testing to monitor compliance with the terms of his supervised release.
According to court records, on July 10, 2019, during a court-ordered risk assessment examination, Forehand’s U.S. Probation Officer determined that Forehand possessed a computer that he built himself, which contained three hard drives that were unmonitored by the U.S. Probation Office (USPO). During a subsequent search of Forehand’s residence, USPO recovered the computer and the three hard drives. A forensic examination of the seized devices by USPO and the FBI revealed that they contained child pornography. In addition, court records show that one of the hard drives had been “wiped” by Forehand, however, law enforcement were able to locate the child pornography in Forehand’s deleted files. According to court records, law enforcement determined that Forehand possessed more than 400 images of child pornography, some of which depicted the sexual abuse of prepubescent children and sadistic and masochistic conduct.
In handing down the sentence, Judge Bell emphasized the seriousness of the defendant’s offense, and noted the vicious and enduring impact the defendant’s crimes have on the scores of innocent children victimized through the repeated collection and distribution of images and videos memorializing their violent sexual abuse.
In August 2020, Forehand pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography. He is currently in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.
In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney Murray commended the U.S. Probation Office for their investigation of this case and thanked the FBI for their invaluable assistance.
Assistant United States Attorney Courtney Randall, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, prosecuted the 2009 case. Assistant United States Attorneys Mark T. Odulio and Emily Wasserman, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, prosecuted the 2020 case.
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 the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (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.projectsafechildhood.gov.