Melbourne Man Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison For Distributing Two Images Depicting The Sexual Exploitation Of A Child
U.S. District Judge Paul G. Byron has sentenced Robert Lee Ripley (47, Melbourne) to 14 years in federal prison and 10 years of supervised release for distributing images of child sexual abuse. The court also ordered Ripley to pay $5,000 in restitution. Ripley had pleaded guilty on February 24, 2022.
According to court documents, on June 24, 2021, Homeland Security Investigation Task Force Officers rescued a female child, approximately five years old, that had been sexually abused by a male subject. The male subject had produced images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of the child.
A forensic analysis of the cellphone belonging to the male subject revealed a series of chat sessions through KIK, where he shared images depicting the abuse of the child victim. Specifically, the abuser shared with Ripley, the moderator of a KIK chat group, two images depicting the sexual abuse of the minor.
During the chat, it was obvious the abuser had access to the child victim, and he was actively producing those images. After receiving the photos of the victim, Ripley stated, “Yummy,” and then shared the images with the chat group, thereby perpetuating the harm to the victim. After his arrest, Ripley admitted that he would receive images and videos of child pornography through the KIK application and would share those images and videos with other KIK users.
“This predator participated in the online exploitation of children and has caused irreparable harm,” said HSI Orlando Assistant Special Agent in Charge David Pezzutti. “The vile actions of child predators will not go undetected, and thanks to the painstaking, tireless efforts of HSI Cocoa Beach Child Exploitation Taskforce and HSI Jacksonville, pedophiles will be held accountable to the fullest extent.”
This case was investigated by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ilianys Rivera Miranda.
This is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.