Dallas, Texas (KWKT) — A former youth pastor in a north Texas church was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in federal prison for receiving child pornography.
This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas. This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Garland Police Department.
According to the factual resume filed in the case, Joshua Earls, 30, of Garland, Texas, admitted that while he was a youth pastor, he established a relationship with a girl at his church, "Jane Doe," who was 16 years old at the time. Earls had pleaded guilty plea in October 2013 to one count of receiving child pornography. In addition to the 144-month federal prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn also sentenced Earls to a lifetime of supervised release.
In April 2013, Jane Doe disclosed the nature of her relationship with Earls to the Garland Police Department. On April 9, 2013, law enforcement executed a search of Earl's residence and seized several computers. An examination of those computers resulted in identifying more than 600 images of child pornography, including images of Jane Doe.
Earls admitted that he exchanged nude pictures and videos with Jane Doe and possessed videos of her engaging in sexually explicit conduct, at his request. A forensic examination of Earls' cell phone revealed text messaging between Earls and Jane Doe, in which he solicits, encourages and persuades her to produce pornographic images of herself and send them to him.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa J. Miller, Northern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including producing and distributing online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.