Fortson, Ga. man pleads guilty in international child exploitation case

Updated: Mar. 24, 2021 at 10:48 AM EDT
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FORTSON, Ga. (WTVM) - A Fortson, Ga. man will spend at least the next decade in federal prison after pleading guilty in an international child exploitation case.

27-year-old Brandon Bywater pleaded guilty to one count coercion and enticement of a minor. The charge holds a minimum sentence of ten years with a maximum of life in prison. He will also serve five years of supervised release, register as a convicted sex offender and face a $250,000 fine.

In June 2018, a user named “drawingkid500″ uploaded child pornography to social media app Kik, which is based in Canada. The images were immediately flagged and reported to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Centre Missing and Exploited Children.

The IP address of the user was located in the United States. The case was then referred to the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

HSI searched Bywater’s home and questioned him, at which time he admitted to being “drawingkid500.”

Bywater also admitting to sending, receiving and downloading images of child pornography, including images of toddlers and infants. Agents discovered 27 images of child exploitation on his phone, including 14 pornographic images of prepubescent children.

An examination of Bywater’s phone found that he had texted a 13-year-old more than 400 times pretending to be a high school sophomore named Jack. He also convinced the juvenile to send him nude photos of herself. He also sent her nude photos of himself.

“Our office will pursue federal prosecution to its fullest against those who seek to harm children,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Peter Leary. “I commend the excellent work of Homeland Security Investigations and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and also extend our gratitude to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Centre for Missing and Exploited Children for its critical role launching this investigation and helping to stop a child predator.”

His sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 14, 2021.

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