Monday, January 23, 2006

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Attorney General Abbott's Cyber Crimes Unit Arrests Two Wichita Falls Men For Child Pornography

WICHITA FALLS – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit has arrested two Wichita Falls men caught with hundreds of photos of children engaged in sexual conduct. Christopher Linn Franks, 23, and Matthew Nathaniel Gunnell, 25, were charged with possession and promotion of child pornography.

“People who possess and send child pornography are robbing our children of their innocence and inflicting harm that these young ones will feel for the rest of their lives,” Attorney General Abbott said. “My office will aggressively prosecute these cases to see that these men are held accountable for their actions.”

Media Links
Christopher Linn Franks
Christopher Linn Franks
Cyber Crimes Unit arrest of John David Payne
Video of Frank's Jan. 19, 2005, arrest
Matthew Nathaniel Gunnell
Matthew Nathaniel Gunnell
Cyber Crimes Unit arrest of John David Payne
Video of Gunnell's Jan. 19, 2005, arrest

Cyber Crimes investigators executed search warrants at both men’s homes in May 2005 and forensic exams of their computers later turned up images of child pornography. On Jan. 19, Cyber Crimes investigators arrested Franks while Gunnell turned himself into the Wichita County Sheriff’s Office. Both are now in the Wichita County Jail, each on $100,000 bond. Both cases were referred to the Attorney General by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony, with a punishment range of two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Promotion is a second-degree felony that carries a possible punishment of two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Cracking down on sexual predators is a top priority of Attorney General Abbott’s administration. His office has obtained convictions against 32 men on child pornography charges since Attorney General Abbott took office in December 2002.

The Cyber Crimes Unit, which also tracks down individuals who use the Internet to solicit meetings with children for sex, has arrested 71 of these predators since Abbott took office in December 2002. The Fugitive Unit, which locates convicted child sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children, has arrested 257 of these parolees. The Fugitive Unit has also arrested 38 unregistered sex offenders and another 18 men and women in other operations. For more information, visit the Attorney General’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or call (800) 252-8011.