Nov. 05--Devin Michael Benson, 23, was sentenced in federal court Monday to 90 months in prison for uploading sexually explicit images of children and toddlers to a file sharing and social networking site.
The Charlottesville man said he posted the photos under a pseudonym nod to a cartoon pedophile that preys on boys, because other users would single out site members who did not contribute.
"He didn't want to be a leech on the system," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Healey.
Benson pleaded guilty in July to distributing about 90 graphic pictures of children online over a five month period. On Monday, he told U.S. District Court Judge Glen E. Conrad that he was beginning to understand the effect of his actions.
"If I could take it all back, I would," Benson said before his sentencing. "I plan to use this time to better myself."
The FBI netted Benson in a wide-ranging 2009 sweep of about 30 websites distributing child pornography, court records state. Healey said Benson used sophisticated methods to shield his identity from law enforcement online, including encryption software to mask his computer usage.
"He knew it was wrong, and he knew it was illegal," she said.
Conrad ordered Benson to pay $1,100 in fees and fines and $500 restitution to five children identified in photos Benson shared from the "8 Kids" photo series, an infamous collection of images taken of victims who since have retained an attorney to seek compensation for damages. He also ordered Benson to spend the rest of his life on supervised probation upon his release from prison.
"The viewing of these images, a lot of people think it's harmless, but it's not," Conrad said. "These are real victims."
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