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Southern District of Indiana | Shelbyville repeat offender sentenced to 40 years in federal prison for sexually exploiting 6-year-old child

INDIANAPOLIS — Justin R. Potts, 38, of Shelbyville, Indiana, has been 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 sex -Perpetrator.

According to court documents, on or about March 20, 2014, Mr. Potts was sentenced to 7 years in prison for sexual misconduct with a minor in Hancock County, Indiana. As a result of that conviction, Mr. 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 parole in April 2021.

Between December 28, 2021 and January 22, 2022, Mr. Potts resided in Muncie, Indiana with six-year-old Person A and child victim 1. While Mr. Potts was staying with Person A and child victim 1, the child victim was resident 1 in the care, custody and control of Mr Potts. Mr. Potts sexually abused underage victim 1 and produced visual depictions of that abuse, including videos of Potts using his hands to force a penis-shaped device into the child’s anus, rubbing his penis against the child’s anus, and inserting his penis into to force the mouth of the child . The videos were uploaded to Mr Potts’ Google account, after which the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was immediately notified. Indiana State Police and the United States Secret Service quickly investigated the account, traced it back to Mr. Potts, contacted the Delaware County Attorney’s Office, and executed a search warrant, leading to his arrest and detention. Mr. Potts pleaded guilty to three counts of sexually exploiting the underage victim 1 and one count of committing those offenses while pending registration as a sex offender.

“This serial predator inflicted appalling abuse on an innocent child to satisfy his criminal sexual desires,” said Zachary A. Myers, US Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. “I applaud the outstanding and tireless efforts of the United States Secret Service, the Indiana State Police, the Delaware County Attorney’s Office and federal prosecutors to quickly identify this perpetrator, remove him from the community and save a child from ongoing abuse. Mr. Potts will now serve decades in federal prison where he cannot sexually abuse another child. Today’s severe sentence demonstrates our commitment to protecting the public from these dangerous criminals.”

“This investigation is a testament to the Secret Service’s commitment to prosecuting those who choose to victimize our most vulnerable citizens,” said lead Special Agent Jeffrey Adams, US 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 on this case.”

US Secret Service was investigating the case, and valuable assistance was provided by the Indiana State Police and the Delaware County Attorney’s Office. The verdict was handed down by US District Judge James R. Sweeney II. As part of the verdict, Judge Sweeney ordered Potts to be monitored by the U.S. Parole Board for the rest of his life after his release from federal prison and ordered him to pay the child victim $10,000 in compensation. Potts are also required to register as sex offenders wherever they live, work, or go to school, as required by law.

US Attorney Myers thanked Assistant US Attorney Tiffany J. Preston, who was prosecuting this case.

In fiscal year 2019, the most recent year for which data is available, the Southern District of Indiana was the second-largest of the nation’s 94 federal districts in terms of the number of prosecuted cases of child sexual exploitation.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched by the Justice Department in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by US Attorneys’ offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Division, Project Safe Childhood provides federal, state, and local resources to better identify, arrest, and prosecute individuals who exploit children online track and identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit www.justice.gov/psc

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