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United States of America v. Christian Robert Webb

May 20, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Daniel L. Hovland, District Judge United States District Court



On June 8, 2010, the defendant, Christian Robert Webb, was charged in a two-count indictment with the crimes of receipt of materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors and possession of materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252(a)(2), 2252(a)(4)(B), 2252(b)(1), and 2252(b)(2). See Docket No. 12. On November 23, 2010, a plea agreement was filed and Webb agreed to voluntarily plead guilty to the receipt charge in count one of the indictment. See Docket No. 28. In the plea agreement, the parties agreed that the base offense level for the defendant's conduct is 22 under U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2(a)(2). The parties also agreed to upward adjustments for materials involving a prepubescent minor; for materials portraying sadistic, masochistic, or violent conduct; for the use of a computer; and for the possession of more than 600 images. Id. On February 17, 2011, a change of plea hearing was held in Bismarck, North Dakota. The Court accepted a plea of guilty to count one of the indictment and ordered that a Presentence Investigation Report be prepared by U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services.

The Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) revealed the following undisputed facts, all of which are adopted by the Court and incorporated by reference in this memorandum:

1) In January 2010, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Minot, North Dakota, received information from the Australian Federal Police Child Protection Operations regarding the distribution of child pornography by an Australian citizen. The Australian citizen communicated with individuals throughout the world, including the United States. One of the persons identified as having contact with the Australian citizen was identified as Christian Webb, residing at 214 19th Street NW in Minot, North Dakota, with his wife and nine year old daughter. ICE agents then opened a collateral investigation on Webb.

2) On May 25, 2010, ICE agents were made aware of chat logs utilizing the Yahoo username "nd_biboy," had communicated with subjects in Australia with the username "sydney_bi_couple_m50f42." The subjects in Australia were later arrested for suspected distribution of child pornography. The chat logs were approximately three pages in length and appeared to discuss the live sexual abuse of the couple's minor child.

3) The IP address used by Webb was found to be financed by and belonged to the Minot Public School system. The superintendent of the school district was contacted and investigators learned that the IP address was assigned to Webb for his use as a teacher and as the school's IT administrator. It was discovered that Webb had also been issued numerous computers and other digital storage devices for use within his residence in order to maintain the Public School systems computer network. School authorities issued a verbal and written consent to search any and all devices belonging to the Minot Public Schools.

4) Because the chat log revealed that children were possibly being sexually abused live via webcam, ICE agents approached Webb at the Minot Public School located at 215 2nd Street SE, Minot, North Dakota, on May 27, 2010, and requested an interview. During the interview, Webb initially indicated that investigators may find "around 10 to 15 images of child pornography" on the computer assigned to him by the school. As the interview progressed, Webb admitted that agents would likely find approximately 100 images of child pornography.

5) ICE agents asked Webb for consent to search the computers and other devices located in his possession and at his home. Webb consented to the search and accompanied the agents, and other law enforcement officials, to his residence in Minot, North Dakota, where the computers and other devices were located. The agents located numerous computers, hard-drives, and external hard-drives throughout the home. North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Tim Erickson, a trained and experienced computer forensic examiner, conducted a quick search of several of the devices located in Webb's residence. This field preview was conducted using equipment and software designed to allow for confirmation of material depicting the sexual abuse of children.

6) During the field preview, Agent Erickson identified two (2) images depicting the sexual abuse of prepubescent children on a SMART brand 80 gigabyte hard-drive located during the search. These images were of a prepubescent male child with his legs spread and the focus of the photo on his exposed penis; and a prepubescent female with her face beside an exposed erect adult male penis with what appears to be ejaculate running down her face. A picture of Webb's child was obtained for comparison with any images found on the computers.

7) During the evening of May 27, 2010, and through the morning of May 28, 2010, Agent Erickson began obtaining a digital image copy of the computers and devices obtained from the files to confirm the presence of child pornography. Agent Erickson was able to view random images and video files to confirm the presence of child pornography. Additionally, Agent Erickson was able to identify several files that appeared to depict the live sexual abuse of prepubescent children that had been saved to a file labeled "Me" on Webb's external hard drive. The videos were obtained by a webcam streamed live through a Yahoo chat application

8) Also discovered during the previews was a JPEG image depicting what appeared to be Webb's nine year old daughter lying on a bed, under a blanket or a sheet. Beside her appears to be another female, of approximately the same age, lying on her stomach, dressed only in a t-shirt and panties. This image was located in a file containing numerous other images depicting child pornography.

9) Webb was chatting live with numerous other individuals using Yahoo. Some of Webb's "friends" include males from Great Bend and Pierceville, Kansas; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Washington; and Australia. Discovery materials revealed 120 videos, including approximately 75 live webcam videos, containing child pornography. The webcam videos depict images such as a six or seven year old girl performing oral sex on an adult male; and vaginal penetration of a female (approximately age eight) by an adult male. The videos also depict digital penetration of females under the age of 12, by adult males.

10) The live webcam videos depict a variety of adult males exposing themselves to Webb and/or masturbating on camera in the presence of a child. Some of the webcam videos show adult males exposing and or sexually abusing children for Webb. These webcams depict a daughter being sexually molested by her father. The molestation included oral sex and vaginal sex. There are videos of children being fondled by adult men.

11) The investigation revealed the identities of several men who were sexually abusing their children, live, via webcam. Several of the men have been prosecuted for these offenses. During the webcam chats, Webb also used the username "trish16nd2," where he acted as a young girl who was interested in both father and son. One of the people with whom Webb had extensive webcam and chats was an adult male who ...

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