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Noblesville man sentenced to life in child sex tourism case

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Posted at 12:24 PM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-30 12:24:04-05

INDIANAPOLIS — A Noblesville man will spend life behind bars after being convicted in a child sex tourism case involving children outside of the country.

Charles Skaggs Jr., 53, was convicted of producing child pornography, exploitation of a minor and concealing evidence during his trial in July 2019. On Thursday, United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler handed down his sentence.

“Today’s sentence sends a strong message to those who seek to exploit our minor children that you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, particularly those with prior records of child exploitation,” said Minkler. “Protecting our youth from sexual predators will always remain a top priority of this office and this life sentence will ensure that the public is safe from any future victimization from this defendant.”

The case began in 2015 as an FBI investigation of child sex tourism in Ukraine which included Skaggs' work with orphanages there, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. In December 2016, U.S. Customs recovered thumb drivers that contained child pornography that had been produced in Indiana when they searched Skaggs at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport during his return trip from Ukraine.

Prior to being arrested by the FBI, Skaggs hid a hard drive in the ceiling of a laundry room in his residence that was found after officers intercepted a note Skaggs had written during his pretrial detention. That hard drive contained images of child pornography including the same images that had been found on the thumb drives that were seized during his arrest.

During his bench trial in July 2019, Skaggs was convicted of all nine counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, two counts of posession of child pornography and one count of concealment of evidence.

“Children are among the most vulnerable in our society and it is our collective responsibility to protect them from predators such as Mr. Skaggs. His life sentence should send a clear message to those who engage in this conduct - you will be investigated, identified, and prosecuted - and you will go to prison,” said Special Agent in Charge Grant Mendenhall, FBI Indianapolis. “The teamwork between our agents and state law enforcement partners ensured there is one less predator victimizing the most innocent of our communities.”

“Sexual predators, like Charles Skaggs, who think they can avoid U.S. laws by traveling abroad for the purpose of sexually exploiting children will find no safe refuge upon their return to the U.S., said Tracy J. Cormier, Special Agent in Charge of HSI St. Paul. “HSI proudly stands with our law enforcement partners and remains steadfastly committed to doing all we can to stop this heinous practice.”