Dec. 3-INDIANAPOLIS - Justin R. Potts, 38, of Shelbyville, was recently sentenced to 40 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to four counts related to his sexual exploitation of a six-year-old child committed while he was required to register as a sex offender.
According to court documents, on or about March 20, 2014, Potts was convicted of sexual misconduct of a minor in Hancock County and sentenced to 7 years in prison. As a result of this conviction, Potts was required to register as a sex offender for 10 years or until January 21, 2026. He failed to register in 2019 and was released from probation in April 2021.
Between December 28, 2021, and January 22, 2022, Potts resided in Muncie with Individual A and Minor Victim 1, who was six years old. While Potts resided with Individual A and Minor Victim 1, Minor Victim 1 was in Potts' care, custody, and control.
Potts sexually abused Minor Victim 1 and produced visual depictions of that abuse. The videos were uploaded to Potts' Google account prompting immediate notification to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Indiana State Police and the United States Secret Service quickly investigated the account, traced it to Potts, contacted the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office, and executed a search warrant leading to his arrest and detention.
Potts pleaded guilty to three counts of sexually exploiting Minor Victim 1, and to one count of committing those offenses while required to register as a sex offender.
"This serial predator inflicted horrific abuse on an innocent child to satisfy his criminal sexual desires," said Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. "I commend the outstanding and tireless efforts of the U.S. Secret Service, Indiana State Police, the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office, and federal prosecutors to quickly identify this offender, remove him from the community, and rescue a child from ongoing abuse. Mr. Potts will now spend decades in federal prison, where he cannot sexually abuse another child. The serious sentence imposed today demonstrates our dedication to protecting the public from these dangerous offenders."
"This investigation is a testament to the Secret Service's commitment to pursue those who chose to victimize our most vulnerable citizens," said Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Adams, U. S. Secret Service - Indianapolis Field Office. "The Secret Service is a proud member of the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and would like to thank our partners at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Indiana State Police for their tireless work in this case."
The U.S. Secret Service investigated the case and the Indiana State Police and Delaware County Prosecutor's Office provided valuable assistance. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge James R. Sweeney II. As part of the sentence, Judge Sweeney ordered that Potts be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for the rest of his life following his release from federal prison and ordered him to pay $10,000 in restitution to the child victim. Potts must also register as sex offender wherever he lives, works, or goes to school, as required by law.
U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant United States Attorney Tiffany J. Preston, who prosecuted this case.
In fiscal year 2019, the most recent year for which data is available, the Southern District of Indiana was second out of the 94 federal districts in the country for the number of child sexual exploitation cases prosecuted.
This case 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 U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.
For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit www.justice.gov/psc.