Led to a network of child pornographers around the world; 38 arrested, 138 children rescued
BOSTON — A Milford man was sentenced to 18 years in prison in federal court. This investigation has led to an international child pornography case involving the abuse of 138 children. This ongoing worldwide investigation is being led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Robert A. Diduca, 48, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 18 years in prison, to be followed by 10 years of supervised release. On Nov. 17, 2011, Diduca pleaded guilty to production, distribution and possession of child pornography.
"Thanks to international cooperation and first class forensic analysis by HSI special agents here in Boston, along with our Massachusetts State Police partners, an individual arrest in Milford has led to a network of child pornographers that has spanned the globe," said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. "An individual photo discovered on Mr. Diduca's computer has led to 33 arrests and 138 children being saved worldwide. Eight of those arrested live in the United States. Today's sentence should serve as a stern warning to those inclined to abuse children or share images of child pornography: there isn't a place in the United States, on the Internet, or the planet in which you are truly safe. The international law enforcement community is united as one when it comes to investigating child pornography. We will investigate you, we will prosecute you, and we will bring you to justice."
"I hope that today's sentence sends a strong message that the government will bring all of its resources to bear on child exploitation investigations and prosecutions," said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, District of Massachusetts. "Protecting children is one of our highest priorities, and we will continue to aggressively and proactively root out anyone engaged in the exploitation of a child. I want to commend the investigators in this case, whose tireless efforts resulted, not only in the arrest of Mr. Diduca, but to a worldwide investigation, culminating in dozens arrests and the rescue of nearly over 130 children."
Diduca engaged in an online chat with an individual being separately prosecuted in Arizona, persuading him to sexually abuse a four-year-old child and take sexually explicit photos of the child. Diduca provided the individual with a camera and suggested how the child should be posed.
Diduca was also a member of an online forum for those with a sexual interest in children, and sent a pornographic image of a child via email. An investigation of that distributed image led to the identification of the child, and the arrest of a Dutch national in the Netherlands, who was charged with production, distribution, and possession of child pornography, as well as the sexual assault of 87 minors.
Forensic evidence revealed over 27,000 images of child pornography in Diduca's possession. He has been held in custody since his arrest June 2, 2011.
The case was investigated by HSI, with assistant from the Massachusetts State Police and the Milford Police Department.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael I. Yoon in coordination with the Worcester County District Attorney's Office.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.