Sacramento, California - A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment Thursday against Brent Hooton, 48, of Marysville, charging him with sexual exploitation of a child and distribution of child pornography, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, in May 2021, Hooton produced images of a child under the age of 12 engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Hooton then distributed those images to other users over the Kik messaging application.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mira Chernick is prosecuting the case.
If convicted of sexual exploitation of a child, Hooton faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ 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 those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.