RIDGELY — A Caroline County man was among 58 people arrested as part of “Operation Broken Heart,” a nationwide, two-month initiative to target offenders of child sexual exploitation.
James Arthur Sleasman, 38, of 109 Park Ave., Ridgely, was served Friday, May 31, by the Maryland State Police with a warrant for his arrest on eight charges of child pornography and obscene material possession, distribution and intent to distribute.
Sleasman was initially held without bond at the Caroline County Detention Center, but after a bail review Monday, June 3, was released on personal recognizance.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Caroline County District Court.
According to charging documents, Imgur, an online image-hosting and -sharing platform, reported Jan. 1 four images of possible child pornography uploaded by a user.
The tip was received in April by the Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division.
An investigator with the division reviewed the images, three of which, he said in charging documents, showed an approximately 7-year-old child engaged as a subject in sexual conduct.
The fourth image, of the same child, was deemed obscene material, the investigator said.
The investigator said the IP address used to upload the images was assigned to Sleasman, and a search of the email address connected to the Imgur account showed emails whose headers had Sleasman’s name and home address.
The investigator then checked MVA and court records, and confirmed Sleasman lived at the Ridgely address.
The arrest warrant was obtained Wednesday, May 29, and served two days later.
More than 60 task forces nationwide participated in “Operation Broken Heart” through April and May.
In Maryland, the initiative was led by the state’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, concentrating on offenders who possess, manufacture and distribute child pornography and entice children online for sexual purposes. The task force also targeted child prostitution and possible human trafficking.
Members of the task force, from police agencies statewide, initiated 320 investigations, executed 110 search warrants and arrested 58 people.
Sleasman was one of 16 people whose case was handled by the Maryland State Police.
The initiative also included public outreach sessions, which reached nearly 1,300 people in Maryland.
Nationally, more than 4,500 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies participated in “Operation Broken Heart” to arrest child predators and educate people on how to use the internet safely.