TULSA — A man arrested as a result of a report from Facebook to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children was sentenced Monday in federal court for sexual exploitation of a child, according to U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.
U.S. District Judge Claire V. Eagan sentenced Thomas Dustin Daughtry, 43, of Sperry, to 15 years in federal prison to be followed by 10 years of supervised release for illegally engaging with the minor online from Feb. 18, 2019, through June 25, 2019.
In his written plea agreement from October 2019, Daughtry stated that he knowingly enticed a 15-year-old into engaging in sexually explicit conduct and persuaded the minor to send sexual images to him.
“Daughtry’s crimes came to light when Facebook reported ongoing contact by the defendant and the minor victim. This underscores the importance of ensuring law enforcement has a means to identify online predatory behavior and to lawfully access their electronic communications,” Shores said.
“Facebook’s development and implementation of end-to-end encryption could result in wholly blocking law enforcement’s ability to obtain evidence of Facebook facilitated communications even though a child predator has been identified,” Shores added. “I am thankful that investigators and Assistant U.S. Attorney Shannon Cozzoni brought Thomas Daughtry to justice. He will spend the next 15 years in prison thinking on his crimes against children.”
In October, U.S. Attorney General William Barr and law enforcement partners from the United States, United Kingdom and Australia published an open letter urging the social media company to rethink its development of end-to-end encryption.
End-to-end encryption would preclude access to content even for preventing and investigating serious crimes, the Tulsa U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
In the letter, the officials highlighted Facebook’s critical assistance in identifying child predators. In 2018, Facebook made 16.8 million reports of child sexual exploitation and abuse content to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), 12 million of which it is estimated would be lost if the company implements end-to-end encryption. As well as child abuse imagery, these referrals included more than 8,000 reports related to attempts by offenders to meet children online and groom or entice them into sharing indecent imagery or meeting in real life.
The FBI and the Tulsa Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Shannon Cozzoni prosecuted the case.
This case resulted from Operation Independence Day, an investigation conducted during the month of July 2019 that resulted in nine individuals being charged federally in the Northern District of Oklahoma.
The nationwide operation relied on the 86 FBI-led Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Forces, which leverage the resources and intelligence of other federal, state, local and tribal partners.