DENTON — Operation Broken Hearts — a nationwide initiative that collaborated with the Maryland Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) — led to dozens arrests statewide, including defendant James Arthur Sleasman in Caroline County. This coordinated effort by law enforcement represented more than 4,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies with the purpose of arresting child predators and educating the public on internet safety.
According to a statement from Caroline State’s Attorney Joe Riley, a search warrant was executed on Sleasman’s residence in Caroline County and for his electronic devices. These items revealed several images that Sleasman possessed and distributed through file sharing services. Phone applications on his mobile phone were accessed and it was discovered that in addition to the images, Sleasman was soliciting minors for sex acts. He was indicted in July of this year by a Caroline County Grand Jury.
In October, Sleasman pled guilty to 18 counts. Those offenses included charges of child pornography possession, distribution, and sexual solicitation of a minor. Prior to this offense Sleasman had no criminal history. He was sentenced by the Hon. Judge Jonathan G. Newell to 44 years in the division of corrections suspending all but 22 years active. Judge Newell described the material that Sleasman distributed and possessed as “on the spectrum of child pornography, it’s extreme.” Sleasman was ordered to five years of supervised probation and will have to register as a Tier II Sex Offender.
“One of the reasons we do what we do,” wrote Riley, “is to fight for these victims who were, quite frankly, tortured to obtain this perverse material. To have these statements illustrates that this is not a victimless crime.”
Noted Riley, the Office of the State’s Attorney for Caroline County would like to acknowledge the Maryland State Police Computer Crimes Unit that coordinates ICAC (specifically Brian Dadds the trooper assigned to this matter), all agencies involved in the execution of the warrants on the residence, the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network, the US Department of Justice who approved the federal grants that funded this operation, the office of US Attorney for Maryland who coordinated with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to obtain victim impact statements from the known victims depicted in these images.
Riley continues, “This length of sentence, we hope, sends a strong message to the community that we are serious about this issue. If you possess these sorts of images or have urges for this material, then destroy these devices that contain them and seek immediate help. We will be relentless in seeking out those that actively participate in a market place that traffics in the harming of children.”