PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Portsmouth man convicted of producing child pornography of a 2-year-old boy and putting a copyright on the images was sentenced Thursday to more than 24 years in prison.
Court documents say 23-year-old Dashawn Webster was identified through a complex investigation involving Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), along with international law enforcement partners.
Webster was arrested in May and pleaded not guilty in federal court in July. When investigators searched his home, he admitted to producing the images that were found on a thumb drive. The images were watermarked with a copyright symbol and appeared to be homemade.
Before the search, a Portsmouth Police sergeant went to Webster’s house to verify he lived there and found him babysitting two boys.
“Protecting the most vulnerable from heinous crimes and vile perpetrators, like Webster, will continue to be a top priority,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “The actions that Webster engaged in are one of the most offensive and serious crimes in the entire criminal code. We will continue to shine a light on the darkest areas of the web and protect those that are unable to protect themselves.”
Authorities say Webster was a member of numerous websites dedicated to child exploitation. In order to gain access to some of these websites, Webster had to produce child pornography and share it with other members.
In 2016, Webster produced child pornography with a 2-year-old and shared it with others. In addition to the produced images, Webster possessed more than 110,000 other images and videos of minors engaging in sexual activity on numerous pieces of electronic media.
“It is devastating that individuals like Dashawn Webster perpetrate this kind of evil in our world today to victimize our children, even infants,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Norfolk Michael Lamonea. “The American public can be assured that HSI will continue to aggressively investigate and uncover these criminals and bring them before our justice system to face the consequences of their terrible actions.”