LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – A Joshua Tree resident pleaded guilty this afternoon to a federal charge of possession of child pornography. Because the defendant has a prior conviction related to the sexual assault of a minor, he is facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
Gordon Douglas Cope, 58, pleaded guilty to the single felony count in United States District Court in Los Angeles. Under the PROTECT Act, which took effect in 2003, Cope must be sentenced to at least 10 years in prison, and he could be sentenced to as much as 20 years for the offense.
This case began when undercover FBI agents, posing online as people interested in child pornography, visited Internet chat rooms that Cope had established. The chat rooms were used to trade and publish images of child pornography. During the course of the investigation, FBI agents seized Cope’s computers and found hundreds of still images and 20 videos depicting the sexual abuse of minors, some of whom were less than 5 years old.
According to a plea agreement filed in this case, Cope knew that the images and videos were pornographic and knew that they depicted children under 12 years of age. Of the 670 images and 20 videos of child pornography, law enforcement has positively identified 83 images and two videos as depicting known child victims of sexual assault.
Cope pleaded guilty before United States District Judge George P. Schiavelli, who is scheduled to sentence the defendant on July 10.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Palm Springs Resident Office), which received the assistance of the Baltimore FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Thomas E. Loeser
Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section