Pleads guilty to federal child porn charge

Ralph Michael Smith, 53, of Ridgecrest, pled guilty July 30 in U.S. District Court in Fresno to charges of receiving child pornography, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California Benjamin Wagner. Smith is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 9 by Chief U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii in the same court.

Between mid-September and mid-October 2010, Smith received more than 600 images via the Internet showing minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, according to the plea agreement. The images were said to portray sadistic, masochistic and other violent actions, some reportedly involving prepubescent minors.

This case resulted from an investigation by the Central California Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute those who sexually exploit children and to identify and rescue victims.

For more information about Project Safe Childhood, see www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, see www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”

Story First Published: 2012-08-08