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Cornell D.A. Johnson

Cornell D.A. Johnson

URBANA — A 22-year-old Decatur man was arraigned Monday on charges he sexually exploited children as young as 4 to obtain pornographic images.

Cornell D.A. Johnson appeared in federal court in Urbana to face allegations that, on four occasions between December 2018 and January, he exploited seven minors to get them to engage in sexually explicit conduct.

It’s alleged this conduct was used to produce graphic images that Johnson collected. Johnson is also charged with being in possession of child pornography when he was arrested Feb. 4. His indictment was returned by a grand jury Feb. 20.

In a statement, U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Sharon Paul said it is alleged Johnson was in contact with children aged from 4 to 16 via Facebook, where Johnson pretended to be a teenage female. Facebook detected the pornographic images and generated what Paul called “cybertip reports” which were sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Law enforcement officers from multiple agencies then used the computer information to identify children in Alabama, Delaware and Ohio, and tracked down Johnson’s email address.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Eric I. Long ruled at Monday’s hearing that Johnson shall remain detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. A trial date was set for April 29. If convicted, Johnson faces a maximum 30 years in prison on each of the sexual exploitation charges and up to 10 years in prison for possession of child pornography. All the offenses carry maximum fines up to $250,000.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly M. Peirson who acknowledged the investigative work of the Decatur Police Department, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations.


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Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid

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Macon County Courts Reporter

Macon County courts reporter for the Herald & Review.

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