The following press release was issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Friday, December 16, 2022.
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that William Watts, Sr., 56, of Philadelphia, PA, was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison, five years of supervised release and ordered to pay $12,000 in special assessments by United States District Court Judge Joel H. Slomsky after being convicted of receiving and possessing child pornography.
In July 2022, the defendant pleaded guilty to these charges, which stemmed from an FBI investigation into a CyberTip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. At the time of his arrest in October 2021, the defendant was a police officer in Philadelphia’s First Police District and had amassed a collection of hundreds of images of child pornography between his online accounts and electronic devices. Watts has since resigned his position with the Department.
“Watts admitted to seeking out videos of children being abused for his own gratification – and for that crime he will now spend years behind bars,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “Our Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to doing the difficult work of investigating and prosecuting these heinous crimes in order to hold people like this defendant accountable, no matter their position in the community or occupation.”
“As a police officer, William Watts was sworn to protect and serve,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Not only did he break the law by continually seeking out these disgusting images, his actions put child victims at further risk of sexual exploitation. Justice demands, and this sentence ensures, that he is held accountable.”
This 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 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, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kelly Harrell.