In the conversations, Hanson stated that 14-year-old girls were his “favorite age” for sex, and that it was not a fantasy, but something he intended to act on.
INDIANAPOLIS – Erik Hanson, 31, of Westfield, Indiana, has been sentenced to 38 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to sexual exploitation of a child, conspiracy to commit sexual exploitation of a child, and transportation of child sexual abuse material.
According to court documents, after an online undercover investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation alerted detectives with the Westfield Police Department to evidence that Erik Hanson was using the Kik communications application solicit sex with a 14-year-old girl. In fact, an undercover FBI Special Agent was communicating with Hanson posing as the child and the child’s father. In the conversations, Hanson stated that 14-year-old girls were his “favorite age” for sex, and that it was not a fantasy, but something he intended to act on. Hanson asked the ‘girl” for sexually explicit photos, sent her images of his penis, and attempted to meet with her for sex at a hotel in Tennessee. Hanson asked how soon he could meet with the 14-year-old girl because he wanted her to be “as young as possible.”
Investigators obtained a warrant to search Hanson’s Kik account and located 91 photos and videos of child sexual abuse material including the sexual abuse of infants, child bondage, and child bestiality.
On April 22, 2022, Hanson’s Westfield home was searched by HCMCETF and Homeland Security agents, who located multiple electronic iPhones and an iPad Hanson admitted contained child sexual abuse material. During an interview with agents, Hanson admitted to owning two Kik accounts for the purpose of viewing child sexual abuse material, and that he belonged to many online groups that traded these images. Over a period of three months, Hanson used CashApp multiple times to pay another individual a total of $75 to produce child sexual abuse material involving Minor Victim 1, who Hanson believed was the producer’s 11-year-old daughter. Hanson directed the other user to engage in specific sex acts with the child, and distributed some of this material to another individual.
“Child predators wrongly believe that the internet This defendant’s actions demonstrate that he is a dangerous pedophile, who must be kept away from our children in person and online,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, Zachary A. Myers. “The sentence imposed here ensures that the defendant will not be in a position to exploit or abuse any more children for many years. I commend the work of the dedicated investigators at the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the Hamilton County Metropolitan Child Exploitation Task Force, and the Westfield Police Department, to hold this predator accountable and remove him from our community.”
“Today’s sentencing of Hanson sends an important message to all would-be predators: we will not allow this type of crime against children to go unpunished,” said HSI Chicago Special Agent in Charge Sean Fitzgerald. “HSI, along with our law enforcement partners, is dedicated to the eradication of sexual exploitation and will continue to pursue those who seek gratification from the abuse and pain of the most vulnerable members of society, our children.”
FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, Hamilton County Metropolitan Child Exploitation Task Force, and the Westfield Police Department investigated this case. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge, Chief Tanya Walton Pratt. Judge Pratt also ordered that Hanson be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for life following his release from federal prison. Hanson must also pay $30,000 in restitution to his victims.
U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant United States Attorney Kyle Sawa, who prosecuted this case.
This case was 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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.