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Child porn convict receives 30-year sentence

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A Benson man will spend 30 years behind bars after pleading guilty to a child pornography charge, federal prosecutors announced last week.

U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III sentenced 28-year-old Andrew Jonathan Bowles in a Raleigh federal courtroom on July 16. Bowles had pleaded guilty to one count of manufacturing child pornography on Jan. 24.

Bowles was identified as a suspect during a Washington Metropolitan Police Department investigation that revealed a North Carolina man posting to internet forums about wanting to have sex with children in July 2017, according to Don Connelly, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon. Police in the District of Columbia referred the case to FBI agents in North Carolina.

An undercover investigator communicated with Bowles, who “repeatedly expressed interest in engaging in sexual activity with the undercover persona’s supposed 10-year-old daughter,” Higdon said in a news release. Bowles allegedly sent child porn to the FBI agent.

Authorities raided Bowles’ Benson home on Dec. 6, 2018 and seized electronic devices containing more than 2,600 images and 1,200 videos of child pornography, the news release states.

Agents who examined Bowles’ cellphone determined he had chatted with children under 16 online and had convinced two minors to send him pictures of their genitals, Connelly said.

“I want to commend the FBI and the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., for their quick action and effective work targeting the defendant’s dangerous and predatory conduct,” Robert Higdon, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, said in the release. “Their work saved many young people unspeakable anguish. We are also mindful of the harm to the actual victims who were identified in this investigation. The court’s sentence recognized that harm and, we hope, will be a part of the healing process for these vulnerable victims.”

Following his 30-year sentence, Bowles will be subject to 15 years of post-release supervision.

Raleigh police assisted the FBI and Washington police in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melissa Belle Kessler and Jake D. Pugh prosecuted Bowles.

Bowles’ case was investigated as part of the Project Safe Childhood initiative, which partners local, state and federal authorities to prosecute those accused of exploiting children.

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