The following is a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida on Friday, August 12, 2022.
Orlando, Florida – U.S. District Judge Paul G. Byron has sentenced Christian H. Rice (31, Brevard County) to 30 years in federal prison, followed by 20 years of supervised release, for production and distribution of images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of a child. The court also ordered Rice to pay $18,143 in restitution and to forfeit a cellphone used to facilitate the commission of the offense. Rice had pleaded guilty on December 28, 2021.
According to court records, in June 2021, Rice sexually exploited Victim-1, a prepubescent child and produced two videos and several images depicting the sexual abuse of Victim-1. Rice then turned to the internet and distributed the images depicting the sexual abuse of Victim-1 to several users of a mobile messaging application. Rice asked the users to share the images with others. At least one other user, Robert Lee Ripley, shared two images depicting the sexual exploitation of Victim-1. The images and videos were found in Rice’s cellphone after two Task Force Officers responded to his residence with a search warrant that they had obtained as a result of cyber-tip issued by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). NCMEC’s cyber-tip revealed that Rice had uploaded 23 images and 4 videos to his email depicting the sexual abuse of children. The cyber-tip included the 2 videos and 1 image depicting the sexual abuse of Victim‑1, and other child sexual abuse images of victims that had previously been identified by NCMEC.
The forensic analyses of Rice’s cellphone showed that, in addition to the images and videos of Victim-1, he possessed 18 images and 11 videos of widely circulated child sex abuse materials.
On July 26, 2022, Robert L. Ripley was sentenced to 14 years in prison for distributing 2 images depicting the sexual exploitation of Victim-1 through a mobile messaging application.
“There is not a prison sentence long enough for the heinous sexual exploitation of children” said HSI Orlando Assistant Special Agent in Charge David Pezzutti. “Thanks to the law enforcement partnership between HSI and the Brevard County Sheriff's Office for detecting and stopping this individual from continuing to violate the innocence of a child.”
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ilianys Rivera Miranda.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.