Advertisement

Leading creator of child porn on 'dark web' convicted in Nevada

By Steve Gorman

(Reuters) - A man accused of victimizing dozens of minors as the leading purveyor of child sexual abuse material on the "dark web" between 2018 and 2021 was convicted on Thursday of multiple counts of child pornography and exploitation by a federal court jury in Nevada.

James Patrick Burns, 55, of Sparks, Nevada, who was already a registered sex offender, faces a prison term of 25 years to life when he is sentenced on June 10, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Nevada said in announcing the conviction.

According to court documents and trial evidence, Burns used threats to coerce children into producing pornographic imagery and then posted this material to "dark web" forums carried by such online platforms as Omegle, Snapchat, Tiktok and Mega.NZ.

At the time of these offenses, between 2018 and 2021, Burns "was the most prolific creator of illegal content on these forums," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

A federal court jury in Reno found him guilty on eight counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, eight counts of coercion and enticement of a minor and one count each of advertising, receiving, distributing and possessing child pornography.

Prosecutors said Burns' child victims numbered more than 100, many of whom have yet to be identified.

His role in the online child porn world came to the attention of law enforcement when a mother of one of his victims noticed threats on her child's cellphone and reported what she had seen to police.

In a separate trial, Burns was also convicted of committing various offenses while required to register as a sex offender.

The case was investigated by an FBI-led task force that included local police and sheriff's detectives and received assistance from law enforcement around the country, prosecutors said.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by David Gregorio)