PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA – Donyel James Fitts, 28, of Sneads, pled guilty yesterday in federal court to three criminal charges relating to the production of child pornography.
During the plea hearing, Fitts admitted that, on June 21, 2012, he persuaded and coerced a child to engage in sexually explicit conduct, so that he could photograph the minor. He also admitted that, on two occasions in October 2012, he videotaped a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct. In addition, as a part of his plea agreement, Fitts admitted that he took videos and photographs of himself engaged in sex acts with a 4-year-old child.
Fitts is currently scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on August 21, 2013, in Panama City. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, followed by a term of five years to life of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh said, "Protecting children from these horrific crimes is a top priority of the Department of Justice and this U.S. Attorney's Office. Our prosecutors will continue to actively investigate and charge those persons who victimize our children in this manner."
This case was investigated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gayle Littleton. 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 to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
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The above was released Thursday by the Department of Justice.