Thursday, December 21, 2006

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Cyber Crimes Unit Investigation Leads To Prison Sentence For Brenham Child Sex Offender

BRENHAM – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit obtained a guilty plea from Michael Patrick Sutherland, 40, of Brenham, who was charged with stockpiling child pornography. Sutherland received a four-year prison sentence and will be required to register as a sex offender for life upon his release.

Assistant Attorney General Grant Sparks handled the State’s prosecution of Sutherland, who pleaded guilty to 10 counts of possession of child pornography Tuesday in Washington County before 21st State District Judge Terry Flenniken.

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Michael Sutherland
 

“Texans will not tolerate criminals who exploit our children,” said Attorney General Abbott. “The Cyber Crimes Unit will vigorously arrest and prosecute child pornographers and predators who rob our kids of their innocence. Dangerous child predators will be brought to justice for their despicable crimes.”

Cyber Crimes Unit investigators conducted a search at Sutherland’s residence on May 17 after receiving a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Forensic analysis of Sutherland’s computer and external media revealed dozens of sexually explicit images of children. He was arrested on May 19.

On June 14, a Washington County grand jury issued a 10-count indictment against Sutherland for possession of child pornography, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Attorney General Abbott has made pursuing sexual predators a top priority of his administration. In 2002, he launched the Cyber Crimes Unit, which targets online predators by assuming the identities of young teenagers in Internet chat rooms, and the Fugitive Unit, which locates convicted child sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children. Attorney General Abbott's initiative has resulted in over 500 arrests of such offenders. His office also has obtained convictions against 54 men on child pornography charges.

To find out more about Attorney General Abbott’s efforts to crack down on sexual predators, visit the Attorney General’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or call (800) 252-8011.