Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Granite Shoals Sex Predator Investigated by Attorney General's Cyber Crimes Unit Sentenced to 15 Years in PrisonAUSTIN – A federal judge sentenced Thurman Sidney Hearn, 45, of Granite Shoals, to 188 months in federal prison Friday. Hearn pleaded guilty in March to two counts each of child pornography possession and transportation.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit began investigating Hearn after receiving a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which indicated Hearn was uploading child pornography to an online photo album. The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas prosecuted the case.
“This admitted child pornographer collected and distributed thousands of illegal, obscene images,” Attorney General Abbott said. “The Cyber Crimes Unit will continue to protect young Texans by aggressively cracking down on child pornographers. We are grateful to U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton for his ongoing commitment to Texas children.”
Hearn, who denied the Cyber Crimes Unit’s request to search his computer, dumped two desktop computers, several zip disks, CDs and other peripherals in a cemetery. After recovering Hearn’s computer equipment, the Cyber Crimes Unit performed a forensic examination of the materials, which revealed more than 9,000 sexually explicit images and approximately 45 pornographic videos of children. Hearn will remain on supervised release for life after serving his prison sentence.
The case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a national initiative that encourages the use of multi-jurisdictional task forces to investigate and prosecute the sexual exploitation of children online. In Texas, investigative assistance in these cases is provided by the Texas Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which is one of almost 50 federally funded task forces across the country dedicated to this project. For more information on Project Safe Childhood, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Attorney General Abbott has earned a national reputation for aggressively arresting and prosecuting child predators. Since 2003, the Cyber Crimes Unit and Fugitive Unit have arrested more than 700 sex predators. Prosecutors also have obtained convictions against more than 80 men on child pornography charges. For more information on Attorney General Abbott’s efforts to protect Texas children, visit the Office of the Attorney General’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.