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Charleston man pleads in massive child porn ring - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Charleston man pleads in massive child porn ring

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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

A Charleston man pleaded guilty last week in what federal investigators are calling the largest child pornography bulletin board case in the history of the United States.

Christopher Blackford, 28, of Charleston, joined 39-year-old William Davis, of New Hampshire, in pleading guilty to participating in an international criminal network known as "Dreamboard," which produced and disseminated depictions of graphic child sexual abuse over the internet.

According to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 47 people have pleaded guilty for their roles in Dreamboard.

Blackford pleaded guilty to participating in a child exploitation enterprise and faces 20 years to life in prison, a $250,000 fine, and five years of supervised release. Court documents state he admitted to joining Dreamboard in December 2009 and contributing 84 posts to the online bulletin board that contained child pornography.

Davis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to advertise child pornography and faces 15 to 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and at least five years of supervised release for his role in Dreamboard. Davis admitted in his guilty plea that he posted advertisements offering to distribute child pornography to other members of the board.

Blackford and Davis are scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana in late July.

"The sexual abuse of innocent children is one of the most unconscionable violations of trust imaginable," said HSI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr. "Investigating and prosecuting the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes is one of our highest priorities and HSI will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to bring these criminals to justice." Parmer oversees a five-state region including Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Dreamboard was a members-only online bulletin board created and operated to promote pedophilia and encourage the sexual abuse of young children in an environment designed to avoid law enforcement detection.

According to court documents, Dreamboard members traded graphic images and videos of adults molesting children. Prospective members had to create and share child pornography to gain entry into the group and to maintain membership once accepted. Dreamboard members employed a variety of measures designed to conceal their criminal activity from detection by law enforcement. Members communicated using aliases rather than their actual names and content posted on Dreamboard was encrypted with a password shared only with other members. Members also employed proxy servers to route the group's internet traffic through other computers in an attempt prevent law enforcement from tracing internet activity.

A total of 72 people, including Blackford and Davis, have been charged as a result of Operation Delego, which is the largest prosecution in United States history of an online bulletin board network dedicated to child sexual abuse.

Fifty-seven of them have been arrested; 47 defendants have pleaded guilty for their roles in the conspiracy and an additional defendant was convicted after a trial. Fifteen of the 72 charged individuals remain at large and are known only by their online identities.

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