In a firm example of the law striking at the heart of the menace of child exploitation, a 50-year-old man from North Carolina (N.C) was sentenced on Thursday to 19 years in federal prison for the production of child pornography. Keith Eric Saunders, from Brevard, N.C, lied to a minor about his identity, took explicit pictures of her, and sexually forced himself upon her.

The sentence, which was handed by US District Judge Martin Reidinger, also includes Saunders serving a lifetime of supervised release after the end of his prison term, and mandatory registration of himself as a sex offender with the state following release.

Faking Identity and Profession

According to information and documents presented in court, Saunders made acquaintance with the young female victim—who was 15 at the time—sometime between December 2017 and January 2018 in Brevard. He told the teenager that he was a photographer and model scout for a modeling agency called "K", which was based in New Jersey. This, however, was a lie concocted to deceive the young girl.

Depression
A victim (Representational Picture) Pixabay

Saunders was neither a photographer nor a modeling scout, and the agency that he claimed to be working for did not exist. Nevertheless, he continued to contact the victim on several occasions and told her that he required pictures of her, as the agency had requested it, the court documents stated. The minor girl met Saunders and he captured photographs of her using his cell phone.

More Lies and Sexual Assault

However, little did the victim know about his deceit or that Saunders had planned something nefarious ahead. He made contact with her on 28 February 2018 and told her that the 'agency' had sought "more pics" of her. By this time, the victim had already turned 16.

Saunders took the unassuming teenager to an apartment in Brevard. There took several pictures of her that depicted her engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Court records stated that following this, Saunders went on to have a forcible sexual encounter with the 16-year-old. Following his apprehension, he pleaded guilty on 18 October 2019 to the production of child pornography.