BOISE – Michael Brian Clair, 33, formerly of Hazelton, Idaho and Parker, Arizona, pleaded guilty today in United States District Court in Boise to sexual exploitation of children by production of sexually explicit images of minors, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents arrested Clair at a home near Hazelton on February 22, 2013. He had been residing there for approximately two months.
According to his plea agreement, Clair came to the attention of law enforcement on October 28, 2012, when he responded to an advertisement posted on the Internet by an HSI Agent in New Orleans. While conversing via email with the agent, Clair made several statements about having inappropriate sexual contact with a 4-year-old female and discussed trading sexually explicit images. During today’s plea hearing, Clair admitted that between July 2012 and January 2013, he coerced two prepubescent minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct, for the purpose of producing visual depictions of that conduct, and transported those images from Arizona to Idaho in late December. Clair also admitted distributing child pornography to others via the Internet, including to a sex offender in Queensland, Australia.
The charge of sexual exploitation of children by producing sexually explicit images of minors is punishable by from 15 to 30 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and a minimum term of five years up to lifetime supervised release. The government is seeking forfeiture of the computer equipment used in the offense.
Sentencing is set is set for October 7, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge at the federal courthouse in Boise.
“Those who victimize children by producing and distributing images of children being sexually abused will be identified, investigated and prosecuted,” said Olson. “Today’s guilty plea sends the strong message that local, state and federal agencies will work together in an efficient and coordinated manner to bring these predators to justice.”
“It wasn’t enough for Clair to abuse two children, he shared his exploitation with predators around the world,” said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of HSI Seattle, who oversees Idaho investigations. “HSI places a high priority on combating this despicable crime, not only to identify and rescue child victims, but to stop their re-victimization by individuals who view and distribute Internet child pornography.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents from Idaho, Louisiana, Washington, and Arizona investigated the case, with assistance from the Boise Police Department, Idaho State Police, Jerome County Sheriff’s Office and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
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, 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, visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”