Auburn man sentenced to 7 years in prison for distributing images of child rape

For the Reporter

A 39-year-old Auburn man, who lived less than a block from an elementary school, was sentenced today to seven years in prison for distributing images of children being raped and sexually molested by adults, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.

Hank Hirst, pleaded guilty to distribution of child pornography in February. He was arrested in June 2013 following a search of his home and electronic devices.

The search revealed Hirst had more than 2,700 images and 447 videos showing children being raped and sexually molested. Hirst had a 170-page manual on his computer about pedophilia and how to groom children for sexual abuse.

At sentencing, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour imposed 25 years of supervised release and ordered Hirst to register as a sex offender following his release from prison.

According to records filed in the case, Hirst came to the attention of law enforcement after he emailed another person in Ohio a video of a toddler being raped by an adult man.

In addition to the videos of child sexual assault found on Hirst's computers and other electronic devices, investigators found videos on Hirst's computer taken from his window of children playing in the neighborhood. The manual Hirst had downloaded onto his computer described how pedophiles should conduct such surveillance of children looking for those vulnerable to sexual abuse.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Auburn Police Department investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Ehren Reynolds prosecuted the case.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.

Led by United States Attorney's Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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.

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