ERIE, Pa. – A resident of Waterford, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of violating federal laws relating to the sexual exploitation of children, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.
John Douglas Root, Jr., 28, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that while engaged in a Kik chat group focused on child exploitation, Root received and distributed digital images depicting prepubescent minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Judge Baxter scheduled sentencing for August 19, 2021 at 1:30 p.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Pending sentencing, the court continued Root on bond.
Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Root.