Daily Court Reporter - News Man indicted after he allegedly contacted several children between the ages of 12 and 15 and coerced them into sending him sexually explicit images
Man indicted after he allegedly contacted several children between the ages of 12 and 15 and coerced them into sending him sexually explicit images
A Berea man was indicted in federal court after he allegedly contacted several children between the ages of 12 and 15 and coerced them into sending him sexually explicit images.
Cody Swinnerton, 24, of Berea, was indicted on three counts of sexual exploitation of children, one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.
According to court documents:
The Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received a tip that Swinnerton appeared to be enticing and coercing minors to produce sexually explicit images. Swinnerton controlled multiple accounts and targeted minors between the ages of 12 and 15 on Instagram and Facebook.
Swinnerton contacted the victims’ friends and family to coerce the victims into producing more images. He also threatened the victims in an effort to get them to produce sexually explicit images. Further investigation revealed potential victims in Ohio, Tennessee, Iowa, Texas, Australia, Austria and France.
A search warrant was executed at the home where Swinnerton lives in Berea on January 25. Relatives said Swinnerton was on vacation in Australia at the time. A review of his computer revealed several images of child pornography.
These alleged crimes took place between 2013 and 2018, according to court documents.
“This case demonstrates how predators will target our children over social media,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said. “Parents and trusted adults need to make it their business to know who their kids are communicating with. We will continue to work with law enforcement agencies to prosecute these predators.”
“This case is a disturbing reminder that international borders are no longer a hindrance for online predators,” said Steve Francis, special agent in charge of HSI for Michigan and Ohio. “However, this arrest should assure victims around the world that Homeland Security Investigations and our partners in the international law enforcement community are committed to aggressively targeting those engaged in these heinous acts.”
"Swinnerton groomed and gained the trust of these young boys, then turned against them for his own gratification," said David Frattare, Ohio ICAC commander. "Victims often get caught up in this vicious cycle and feel they have no option but to comply."
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
The investigation is ongoing
This investigation is being conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, HSI-Canberra, the Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol M. Skutnik.
A charge is only an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
About the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Ohio
The Department of Justice is the nation's litigator, serving but one client, the United States. The United States Attorneys serve as the Department's principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. There are 93 United States Attorneys stationed in judicial districts throughout the United States and its territories. United States Attorneys are appointed by, and serve at the discretion of the President of the United States, with advice and consent of the United States Senate. Each United States Attorney is the Chief Federal Law Enforcement Officer of the United States within his or her particular jurisdiction.
United States Attorneys conduct most of the trial work in which the United States is a party. The United States Attorneys have three statutory responsibilities under Title 28, Section 547 of the United States Code:
the prosecution of criminal cases brought by the Federal Government;
the prosecution and defense of civil cases in which the United States is a party; and
the collection of debt owed to the Federal Government.
Although the caseload varies among districts, each has every category of cases and handles a mixture of simple and complex litigation. Each United States Attorney exercises wide discretion in the use of his or her resources to further the priorities of the local jurisdictions and needs of their communities.
The Northern District of Ohio consists of the 40 northern counties in Ohio. The U.S. Attorney's office (USAO) for the district is located in Cleveland, Ohio and there are staffed branch offices in Toledo, Akron and Youngstown. The office is divided into organizational units with specific responsibility for carrying out the mission of the office.
Date Published: April 12, 2019