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Rigby man pleads guilty to sexual exploitation of achild

A 31-year-old Rigby man pleaded guilty Tuesday to sexual exploitation of a minor child.

Joseph Lavern Harris was indicted by a federal grand jury in Pocatello Wednesday.

According to court records, on February 26, 2018, state investigators responded to allegations of child abuse at a residence in Jefferson County, Idaho, where Harris resided.

A subsequent investigation discovered Harris had produced child pornography using a minor child.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for Harris’s electronic devices and discovered images of the sexual abuse taken on Harris’s phone.

In court, Harris admitted he used, persuaded, and coerced the minor child to take part in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depictions of such conduct.

The charge of sexual exploitation of a minor is punishable by 15 to 30 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and a term of supervised release of 5 years to life.

Sentencing is set for June 18, 2019, before U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill at the federal courthouse in Pocatello.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations in Idaho Falls and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

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 the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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.

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