The following press release was issued on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 by the U.S. Attorney's Office by the Northern District of Alabama.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Chase Tristian Espy, 36, pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography arising out of events that occurred from March 2021 to August 2021, announced United States Attorney Prim F. Escalona and Federal Bureau of Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge Felix A. Rivera-Esparra.
U.S. District Judge Annemarie Carney Axon accepted the plea and set sentencing for January 24, 2023, at 9:00 a.m.
The plea agreement filed states the investigation was initiated when Espy engaged in online chats with undercover law enforcement whom Espy believed was a 15-year-old girl. Upon being arrested, Espy’s cell phone was seized, and a search warrant was obtained. From this search, approximately 69 videos and four images of child sexual abuse material were found.
“The hard work of the agents involved in this case reflect how local, state, and federal law enforcement are committed to protecting children from predators,” U.S. Attorney Escalona said. “Possessing child pornography is not a ‘victimless’ crime. Each time images of the innocent are shared or viewed, the child is re-victimized.”
“The FBI is committed to protecting our children from sexual abuse and exploitation, and we will continue to work with our partners to bring to justice those who would prey on our most vulnerable,” Acting Special Agent in Charge Rivera said. “I want to thank the members of the FBI Birmingham Child Exploitation & Human Trafficking Task Force and our partners for their outstanding work in this case.”
Possession of Child Pornography carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will seek imprisonment of Espy consistent with the high end of the advisory United States Sentencing Guideline range as calculated by the Court at the time of sentencing.
The FBI Birmingham’s Child Exploitation Human Trafficking Task Force (CEHTTF), the Homewood Police Department, and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) participated in this investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys R. Leann White and Jonathan Cross are prosecuting the case.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched by the Department of Justice in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ 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, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.