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Man to serve 23 years for using hidden cameras to produce child porn

US Attorney: Yulee man admitted to using tiny cameras to record children

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 38-year-old Yulee man was sentenced to 23 years in federal prison for using hidden cameras in his bathroom to produce pornographic images and videos of children.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan sentenced Charles Thornton to federal prison, then to serve a lifetime term of supervised release. He also ordered Thornton to pay $7,500 in restitution to the four children who were victims of his crimes.

Thornton has been in custody since his arrest on July 27, 2017, and pleaded guilty last November.

According to court documents, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Thornton’s residence based on suspected online child exploitation activity. When interviewed, Thornton admitted that he had been searching for child pornography online since 2012 and that he was sexually attracted to children.

FBI agents seized several cameras and other computer media from Thornton’s residence. Forensic analyses of these items revealed that from January 2007 through August 2010, Thornton had produced at least 88 videos of four different children while they changed clothes in the bathrooms of two different residences in Florida and Virginia. Thornton surreptitiously recorded these videos using tiny cameras he had hidden in different spots in the bathrooms.

Thornton admitted that his ultimate goal was to capture close-up, explicit footage of the children, then transfer the videos to his computer for his own sexual gratification.

A forensic examination of Thornton’s computer also revealed that he had used the internet to download, collect and make available for sharing about 800,000 images and 9,400 videos depicting the sexual abuse of children, some as young as 2 years old.    

“The FBI Jacksonville Division is committed to protecting children in this community,” said Carlton Peeples, assistant special agent in charge. “This case is just one example of our tireless efforts to identify predators and seek justice for their innocent victims.”