(STL.News) – James Frei, 50, of Union Mills, North Carolina, was sentenced yesterday to 26 ½ years in prison for child exploitation and sex crimes, announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee. A federal jury in February 2019, found Frei guilty of four counts of production of child pornography, one count of enticing a minor to engage in sexual conduct, two counts of traveling in interstate commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor, and one count of transporting child pornography.
According to evidence and testimony at trial, in July 2016, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received a cyber-tip from Facebook regarding an adult male engaging in sexually explicit conversations with a minor female, later identified as a 15 year-old living in Nashville. The conversations indicated that the adult may have already traveled to Nashville to have sex with the minor female. This information was relayed to the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) for further investigation.
A MNPD detective identified and interviewed the minor and learned that she had met the man, later identified as Frei, in May 2016 through a teen chat room on Facebook and that he had traveled to Nashville multiple times in May 2016 and went to her house after her father had left for work, where they engaged in sexual activity. The minor female was then driven to a nearby park where they again engaged in sexual activity. Frei returned to Nashville for a few days in June 2016 and on two occasions, he took the minor to a hotel near the airport and engaged in sexual activity. The detective also learned that Frei had recorded the sexual encounters with his cell phone.
A subsequent search warrant served at Frei’s North Carolina home resulted in the seizure and forensic examination of his cell phone, which was found to contain numerous images and videos of him engaging in sex with the minor female and over 500 images and videos of child pornography. The investigation also determined that Frei had been downloading child pornography for approximately 10 years and had participated in hundreds of conversations with underage children, which were sexual in nature. Frei had previously been convicted of criminal offenses involving minors in the states of North Carolina and Michigan.
This case was investigated by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katy Risinger and Christopher Suedekum.