Robert E. Eldridge, 43, of Panama City, was sentenced today to serve 180 months in federal prison for receipt and possession of child pornography
Eldridge pled guilty in January to two counts of receiving and possessing child pornography. During his plea of guilty, Eldridge admitted that between January 1, 2012, and March 21, 2012, he downloaded in excess of 35 videos and 160 still images containing child pornography from a peer-to-peer network and that he "preferred minor females around 12 years of age."
Due to a prior conviction for Promoting Sexual Performance of a Child, Eldridge faced an enhanced penalty of a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of fifteen years on Count One of his indictment and a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of ten years on Count Two. Eldridge was also sentenced to a 10-year term of supervised release, which he will be required to serve upon completion of his prison sentence.
In announcing the court's sentence, Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida stated: "Protecting children from sexual exploitation is one of the highest priorities of the Department of Justice and this Office. We will continue our partnership with our state, local, and federal law enforcement agents to ensure that offenders are prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
Ms. Marsh had high praise for the Bay County Sheriff's Office and agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) who assisted in the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Risinger.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched by the Department of Justice in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorney's Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local
resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.