Arkansas man who made child porn gets 22-year term

Undercover officer working online snared Searcy man

Posted: April 21, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

A Searcy man was sentenced Thursday to just short of 22 years in federal prison for producing child pornography.

Mitchell Johnson, 44, pleaded guilty in November to a single count of production of child pornography in return for several other charges he faced -- two counts of distribution of child pornography, one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography -- being dropped.

Johnson's indictment on March 2, 2016, stemmed from an investigation that began the previous October when an undercover investigator for the Faulkner County sheriff's office answered an ad on Craigslist seeking people who were into "family fun, especially dad/son, uncle/nephew," according to the U.S. attorney's office.

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The undercover officer soon began chatting with Johnson on the KIK messenger application, and throughout the conversation, Johnson sent several images of child pornography, the office said. One of the images was of a sexually aroused boy who Johnson identified as an 11-year-old who was spending the night at Johnson's house. Johnson wrote that he had licked the child's nipples while he slept.

While investigating Johnson, the FBI received information from law enforcement officers in Louisiana that Johnson had been engaging in text conversations with another person to whom he was sending child pornography, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Agents obtained copies of the text messages and determined that Johnson had sent that person, also a suspect, the same images he had sent to the undercover officer, according to a news release from Acting U.S. Attorney Patrick Harris, Faulkner County Sheriff Tim Ryals and Diane Upchurch, special agent in charge of the FBI's Little Rock field office.

At Johnson's sentencing hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. "specifically found that Johnson engaged in sexual contact with a minor," the news release said, adding that in addition to the prison sentence and 10 years of supervised release, Marshall ordered Johnson to register as a sex offender.

"It's every parent's worst nightmare to entrust their child to the care of someone else and have them sexually exploited," Harris said in the news release. "What Johnson did to this innocent child is reprehensible and the sentence reflects the gravity of his actions."

Metro on 04/21/2017