Highland Man Gets 90 Years for Child PornA 21-year-old Highland man was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 90 years in prison Friday on six counts of child pornography. Christopher Horton was also ordered to pay $3,250 in restitution to the victims of the offenses and a $600 special assessment. If he is ever released, he will be on federal supervised release for the remainder of his life.
U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton says while there is little comfort for the victims, it is assuring to know that such a vicious predator will never again walk free in Southern Illiniois.
Horton sexually abused three students, ages 6,6, and ten years, and video recorded these acts of abuse using his cell phone while employes as a martial arts instructor at a studio in Belleville. Horton also attempted to engage a fourth minor, who was seven years old, in sexually explicit conduct. Approximately 57 video files containing child pornography were recovered from Horton's cellular phone, which were created by Horton between May 2012 and Febuary 2013. In a notes section of the phone, Horton meticulously scripted what he would say to his young victims to solicit them, groom them, and to keep them silent.
Chief United States District Judge David R. Herndon, who sentenced Horton, commented on the shocking and serious nature of the offenses. He said probably in his 15 years as a federal judge this is the most serious and heinous case that he has seen calling the dangerousness and deviousness of the defendant's acts are off the charts."
The case was investigated by the Madison County Sheriff's Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Metro East Cyber Crimes and Analysis Task Force, the Highland Police Department and the Belleville Police Department.
Horton is also charged with several counts of Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault and Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse in the Circuit Courts of Madison and St. Clair Counties. Those charges are still pending. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ali Summers.
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