Children's Martial Arts Instructor Accused Of Child Porn

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- A Tehachapi photographer, who also describes himself as a former mixed martial arts fighter, appeared in federal court Friday to face child pornography charges, the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and with assistance from the Kern County Sheriff’s Department.

Eric Crosby, 35, was taken into custody by ICE agents in Tehachapi this morning.

Over the course of a two-month investigation, ICE agents said they learned that Crosby, who is employed as a martial arts instructor for children and adults and was in the process of opening his own martial arts studio prior to his arrest, used the Internet to trade child pornography, including images previously produced by unknown individuals overseas.

While executing a search warrant at his Tehachapi residence on April 20, agents said they seized a large amount of child pornography – including images that depicted infants and other prepubescent children being sexually abused by adult males and being subjected to other acts of sexual exploitation.

Further review of evidence seized from Crosby’s home revealed lewd, pornographic images of a victim identified as a 14-year-old girl who lives in Tehachapi.

The images were produced during “modeling” sessions conducted by Crosby, who previously produced and published calendars of scantily clad adult women to promote a mixed martial arts clothing line.

“Every time a sexually explicit image of a minor is produced, transmitted, or viewed, a child is victimized,” said Michael Toms, resident agent in charge of ICE Investigations in Bakersfield. “With this arrest, we are sending a message to consumers of child pornography that they won’t be able to hide behind the Internet.”

If convicted of receiving and possessing child pornography, Crosby faces a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of as much as $500,000; and a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in prison and fine as much as $500,000 for producing child pornography.

The investigation is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign-national predators.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hot line at 1-866-347-2423.

This hot line is staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

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Very sad to read...