Dan Horn reports
A Mason man will likely spend the rest of his life in prison for molesting boys at his mother’s in-home day care and sharing photos of the abuse over the Internet.
A federal judge sentenced Andrew Keith, 29, to 80 years in prison Wednesday for producing and sharing child pornography.
Prosecutors say Keith used his mother’s West Chester day care as a “personal hunting ground for victims” and routinely photographed the boys while he abused them. Keith pleaded guilty last year to 15 counts related to child pornography.
He faced a minimum 30-year prison sentence and had asked U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott to consider such a sentence. An evaluation of Keith found he had been abused as a child and his attorneys said that could qualify him for a lesser sentence.
But federal prosecutors said Keith did great harm to his victims and poses a continued threat to others if he ever is released.
They also said his use of the Internet to share images of the abuse will inflict damage on his victims for years to come.
“Keith continued to exploit children by trading hundreds of sexual abuse images,” said U.S. Attorney Carter Stewart. “The photographs are forever in the stream of commerce. They can never be removed from the worldwide web.”
Keith admitted last year that he abused and photographed at least three young boys from 2002 to 2003, traded those images with others and collected 600 photos of child pornography on his computer.
Prosecutors say he obtained many of those images by bartering with other pedophiles over the Internet, swapping his images of abused children for theirs.
Keith also could have been charged in state court, but police and prosecutors are increasingly choosing to use federal child pornography charges when possible. That’s because federal sentencing rules are tough and pornography cases often are easier to prove than abuse cases that require the testimony of young victims.