gavel and justice scales

A child pornography case investigated by the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation resulted in a sentence of more than 10 years in federal prison for a Hendersonville man.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell sentenced Brian Scott Harden, 39, to 210 months in prison on child pornography charges, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Harden was also ordered to pay a $5,000 special assessment, serve a lifetime term of supervised release, and register as a sex offender after he is released from prison.

John A. Strong, special agent in charge of the FBI in North Carolina, and Sheriff Darren Campbell of the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office joined Murray in making the announcement.

According to court documents and information introduced at the sentencing hearing, law enforcement became aware that on June 13, 2018, Harden was distributing child pornography to another individual via Skype, an Internet messaging app that allows users to video chat and share messages, images, and videos.

Law enforcement searched Harden’s residence and seized multiple computer devices, cellphones and a CD. A forensic analysis of the seized items revealed that Harden possessed more than 600 images of child pornography, including images of children under 12, and material depicting the violent, sadistic or masochistic sexual abuse of children, court documents indicated, authorities said.

As Harden admitted in filed court documents before his arrest, he had been sending and receiving child pornography online for at least two years. Harden further admitted that he frequently visited websites and chat rooms online to locate and download child pornography, and to trade images with other individuals.

On Sept. 12, 2019, Harden pleaded guilty to distribution and attempted distribution of child pornography. He is currently in federal custody. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

Murray thanked the FBI and the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office for their investigation of this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Wasserman prosecuted the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Odulio represented the government at the sentencing hearing.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 2006 by the Department of Justice, aimed at combating the growing online sexual exploitation of children. By combining resources, federal, state and local agencies are better able to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue those victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov

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