GALVESTON, Texas – A 56-year-old resident of Galveston
has been found guilty of receipt and possession of child pornography, announced
U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks Jr. found John David
Knowlton guilty following a two-day bench trial that concluded today.
During trial, the court heard testimony from multiple law
enforcement officers and a Comcast custodian of records.
In February 2016, law enforcement conducted an online
session using a publicly available peer-to-peer file-sharing network and
located an IP address whose share folder contained images of child
pornography. The IP address was
associated with Knowlton’s residence.
When law enforcement searched his home, they discovered
more than a dozen electronic devices belonging to him that contained child
pornography. Forensic analysis found that 18 electronic devices contained
thousands of images and hundreds of videos of child pornography, child erotica
and artifacts of child pornography.
Knowlton had opted to represent himself at the trial with
the court-appointed shadow defense counsel. He rehired that counsel this
morning. Knowlton, identifying as a sovereign citizen, argued that the federal
judicial system had no jurisdiction over him. The court was not persuaded by
his arguments and found him guilty as charged.
Judge Hanks set sentencing for Aug. 28, 2019. At that
time, Knowlton faces a minimum of five and up to 20 years for the receipt of
child pornography and up to 10 years imprisonment for the possession charge.
Previously released on bond, Knowlton was taken into
custody after the guilty verdict where he will remain pending sentencing.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security
Investigations, Pearland Police Department and Galveston Police Department’s -
Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force conducted the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zahra Jivani Fenelon and
Kimberly Leo prosecuted the case, which 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. For more
information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc<http://www.usdoj.gov/psc>.
For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc<http://www.usdoj.gov/psc>
and click on the tab “resources.”