Four men from the United States and Canada were sentenced on Aug. 9 for their roles in a global child exploitation enterprise.
Patrick Falte, 29, of Tennessee created a website in July 2015 called “The Giftbox Exchange” and, as the lead administrator, established rules that required users to upload and share images and videos depicting pre-teen children being sexually abused before being allowed access to the site, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“The site was organized into different forums for posting different types of child pornography, categorized by age range of the minor victims, including a sub-forum for ‘Babies & Toddlers,’” the DOJ stated.
The site had 72,000 members and 56,000 posts when it was shut down in November 2016. It operated on the Tor network as a hidden service, which masks the internet protocol addresses of users.
Falte was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Benjamin Faulkner of Ontario, Canada, joined The Giftbox Exchange in September 2015 and became an administrator, the DOJ said. Additionally, he created and administered another Tor network-based hidden service website dedicated to child sexual exploitation, which grew to host more than 1 million members. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Andrew Leslie, 24, from Florida, was a member on The Giftbox Exchange, while also running yet another Tor network-based hidden service website, which explicitly allowed images and videos depicting graphic and violent sexual abuse of children. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison, on top of a previous sentence of 60 years for his sexual abuse and production of child pornography involving multiple children, including an infant and a toddler.
Brett Bedusek, 35, of Wisconsin was a VIP member of The Giftbox Exchange, which gave him access to a special area of the site reserved for users who uploaded new or originally produced child pornography. At the same time, he was on federal supervised release for a prior conviction of receipt of child pornography. He was sentenced to 20 years.
“The sentences imposed on these despicable individuals should insure that they never have another opportunity to abuse another child,” said U.S. Attorney Don Cochran. “With all that we have, we will continue to hunt down the evil and abominable like-minded individuals who delight in abusing children and will bring them to justice.”