PITTSBURGH, PA – A resident of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to a charge of possession of material depicting the sexual exploitation of minors, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
Jason Gerade Harris, Jr., 25, of pleaded guilty to one count before Senior United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that FBI agents received a tip from Minnesota that a complainant discovered naked images of her 7-year-old son sent via Skype. The conversations originated on PlayStation and were continued via Skype. Agents also learned, that a 13-year-old Tampa, Florida juvenile was enticed to take explicit pictures of his 6-year-old brother to send using Kik. The investigation led to the defendant at a residence on Wright Street in Wilkinsburg, PA.
On December 6, 2018, agents executed a search warrant on the residence. When they advised that they were at the house because someone used the internet there to coerce minors to send nude photos and/or videos, Harris, Jr. abruptly stated, “It was me,” and provided details about his communications with minors. A forensic review of the defendant’s phone revealed two chats of interest in the “TextNow” app, where the defendant requested nude photographs of a minor. The forensic review also revealed 171 images and three videos of apparent child pornography, but nothing from his communications with the children in Minnesota or Florida.
Judge Schwab scheduled sentencing for October 22, 2019. The law provides for a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $1,000,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Pending sentencing, the court continued Harris’ bond.
Assistant United States Attorney Shanicka L. Kennedy is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government. The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case.
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.