US man sentenced for using chat room to solicit minors

A Pennsylvania man is sentenced to 30 years on child pornography charges in the first conviction based on the Protect Act of 2003.

A Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempting to use a chat room to solicit sex with minors, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.

Thomas C. Moser, 37, of Leighton, Pennsylvania, was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, DOJ said. Moser was convicted in January of using the Internet to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, interstate travel to engage in a sexual act with a minor and using the Internet to obtain control of a minor for the purpose of producing child pornography.

Moser's conviction may be the first under a section of a 2003 law intended to protect against child pornography.

In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett ordered that Moser must register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life, have no unsupervised contact with minors and cannot use a computer without prior approval of the U.S. Probation Office.

In May 2005, Moser contacted an undercover postal inspector in an Internet chat room with an incest theme, DOJ said. Moser asked if he could travel from his home in Pennsylvania to Frederick, Maryland, in order to have sexual relations with the undercover postal inspector's 14- and 12 year-old daughters. Moser also said he would bring photographic equipment with him to record his sexual activities with the girls, DOJ said.

The postal inspector testified that he and Moser agreed to meet on Sept. 9, 2005, at a store in Frederick. After confirming by telephone that he was on his way, Moser arrived in Frederick at the agreed upon time and was arrested by federal agents and detectives from the Frederick County Sheriff's Office.

This is believed to be the first conviction under Section 2251A of the Protect Act of 2003, which prohibits a person from offering to gain control of a minor for the purpose of producing child pornography. Section 2251A imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison.

The Protect Act also established the Amber Alert warning system, used when children are abducted, and it strengthened penalties against "virtual" child pornography -- images that don't use real children as models.

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Grant Gross

IDG News Service
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