Two Sapulpa men pleaded guilty last week in U.S. District Court to child exploitation crimes, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.
Aaron James Seney, 32, pleaded guilty to distribution and receipt of child pornography and to possession of child pornography. Nicholas Robert Hale, 36, pleaded guilty to attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. Both men pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell.
“Crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children are one of law enforcement’s highest priorities. Every day we strive to protect the most vulnerable members of our community from falling victim to child predators, like Seney and Hale,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “My office and our law enforcement partners will continue to identify, locate, and prosecute child predators and anyone who seeks out or produces child pornography.”
In a written plea agreement, Seney admitted that between March 24, 2020, and September 2, 2020, he distributed and received child pornography via the internet. He further admitted that he knowingly possessed and accessed child pornography, which involved at least one prepubescent minor and a minor that had not attained 12 years of age. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Tulsa Police Department, Sand Springs Police Department and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Nassar is prosecuting the case.
In a written plea agreement, Hale admitted that from Nov. 9, 2020, to Dec. 22, 2020, he used a social media app to persuade and entice an individual he believed was a minor to engage in sexual activity. Hale believed he was interacting with a 14-year-old male but instead was communicating with an undercover officer from the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office. The two eventually agreed to meet at a convenience store in Verdigris in order to have sex. When Hale arrived, he was arrested and found to be in possession of methamphetamine, a loaded pistol in the front driver’s side door, and an AR-15 rifle in the trunk of the car. The Rogers County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra M. Urban is prosecuting the case. Hale will be sentenced on July 9, 2021.
These cases were prosecuted as part of the Justice Department’s Project Safe Childhood initiative. 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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.