Press release from the U.S. Attorney for Southern Indiana
(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced today that Derek Walton, age 31, of Liberty, has been charged with child exploitation. Hogsett said the filing of formal charges comes as his office has launched Operation Community Watch, a new effort which aims to reduce the abuse of Hoosier children through innovative investigative techniques and aggressive prosecution.
“These cases are always difficult, both as a prosecutor and as a parent,” Hogsett said.
“They are even more troubling when the allegations involve a law enforcement official who was entrusted with protecting Hoosier communities. This is what Operation Community Watch was designed to do, however – hold accountable those who endanger our children, no matter who they are.”
According to a criminal complaint unsealed today, Walton has been employed as a reserve Sheriff’s Deputy at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office since 2004, where he works as a jail officer. Walton has previously been employed by the Union County Sheriff’s Office as a reserve deputy and jail officer. Prior to that position, Walton was employed by the Richmond Police Department and served as a deputy marshal for the Laurel Police Department.
In 2011, federal law enforcement became aware of an individual allegedly sending images and videos of child pornography through an AOL email account. This account was shut down by AOL after a complaint was registered. A second email account was discovered by federal agents while investigating a sexual offender, who had exchanged child pornography with the account in question. These two email accounts, along with an additional account known to law enforcement agents, have been allegedly traced to Walton. This includes an account that was allegedly accessed repeatedly from the Franklin County Security Center.
As a result of this investigation, federal agents served a search warrant at Walton’s home on Friday, August 16. During the search, agents allegedly located a laptop, as well as a thumb drive that was hidden behind a mirror in the main bedroom of Walton’s home. That thumb drive was allegedly found to contain a number of pornographic images and videos depicting a minor female. In addition, agents found a small video camera hidden in a can in the living room. This camera was found to contain additional explicit materials showing a minor female.
According to Senior Litigation Counsel Steven D. DeBrota and Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers, who are prosecuting the case for the government, Walton faces decades in federal prison if he is found guilty of child exploitation. In addition, Walton also could be sentenced to years of supervised release, and lifetime registration as a sexual predator.
This arrest comes as Hogsett has announced a comprehensive crackdown on child exploitation in Indiana. Just last year, he launched “Operation Community Watch,” which will allow prosecutors and investigators to use cutting-edge techniques to identify and charge people in Hoosier communities who are engaged in the receipt and trafficking of child pornography materials. In this case, these efforts were facilitated by Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Indiana State Police, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, as well as the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a larger nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Hogsett pointed out that in the last Project Safe Childhood reporting year, the Office prosecuted 52 defendants, an increase of 37% over the prior year, and 49 defendants were convicted and sentenced. These are all-time records for the Office. The Office conviction rate for PSC cases was 100%, a level it has been at since 1991.
The greatest measure of the PSC program’s impact, however, is the identification and rescue of child victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. Over the last year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office successfully identified more than 120 child victims, including minors in Indiana, numerous places in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, and other countries around the world.
Led nationally by 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 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.
Informations, indictments, and criminal complaints are only a charge and are not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.