A 21-year-old female resident of Houston has been ordered to federal prison for a total of 204 months following her convictions of production, distribution and possession of child pornography involving a toddler, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Julia Michelle Morris pleaded guilty to the charges on April 27, 2015, admitting she exploited a 19-month-old child to produce pornography for an unidentified third party for financial gain.
Just moments ago, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore handed Morris the sentence taking into consideration all the facts and circumstances, specifically that Morris committed the crime for financial gain and sexually exploited the child even though there is no indication Morris is a sexual predator. Morris will also have to serve 10 years of supervised release following completion of that prison term. In handing down the sentence, Judge Gilmore noted that her sentence took into consideration that Morris will be incarcerated past the victim’s 18th birthday.
Morris came to the attention of law enforcement after her boyfriend discovered her activities. He had been looking through her cell phone and saw child pornography images and messages in a social media application. He was so horrified by what he saw that he contacted law enforcement and turned her phone over to them. Authorities then obtained and executed a federal search warrant on the device.
In the images, Morris is seen holding the child while spreading the child’s legs to expose her genitalia in a lewd and lascivious manner. Another image depicts Morris with her face in between the child’s legs appearing to be performing oral sex on the child.
Morris admitted to victimizing a child under the age of two and sending the images to an unknown third party. She expected to receive $8,000 for the images but was unable to collect the money since the phone was intercepted by her boyfriend.
The charges against Morris are the result of an investigation conducted by members of the Innocent Images Unit of the Houston FBI, including members of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, which focuses its attention on investigating offenses involving the exploitation of children via the Internet.
This case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Zack, was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.