A 26-year-old man from McLean has been convicted by a federal jury for creating and watching child pornography, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced yesterday (Wednesday).
Federal prosecutors say Zackary Ellis Sanders sexually exploited at least six different minors between 2017 and 2020, according to the news release:
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, from at least 2017 to 2020, Zackary Ellis Sanders, 26, engaged in sexual conversations over multiple mobile messaging platforms with at least six different minors. In these conversations, he directed five minors to engage in sexually explicit and self-harming conduct, record themselves doing so, and send the resulting videos to him. He also received videos of a sixth minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Additional forensic evidence recovered from multiple laptops and thumb drives found in Sanders’s bedroom pursuant to a court-authorized search established that he possessed different images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of other children, including videos depicting the sexual abuse of a toddler and prepubescent children being sexually abused and subjected to sadistic acts. Sanders obtained these images from a Darkweb website, the sole purpose of which was to share and facilitate the viewing of such material.
Sanders faces at least 15 years in prison — the mandatory minimum for the production, receipt, and possession of child pornography charges of which he was convicted. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III has set the sentencing hearing for March 4, 2022.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative that the Department of Justice launched in May 2006 to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.
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