An Allen man was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison last week for child pornography charges, the United States Department of Justice’s Eastern District of Texas announced on Jan. 5.
According to prosecutors and investigators, undercover officers with the Plano and Garland Police Departments received child pornography via a peer-to-peer file sharing software called eMule in January 2018. Months later, authorities furnished a search warrant and searched the Allen residence of the defendant, 57-year-old Clay Denton, while he was on a business trip in Minnesota.
Police made contact with Denton, an internet technology professional, via phone in his absence.
Over 70 items in the household were seized as evidence and investigated by the North Texas Regional Computer Laboratory.
In an Oct. 14 motion hearing, FBI special agent Peter Craanen testified, “There was a vast amount of electronic devices I had never seen before in a residence.”
Later testimony from witnesses revealed that forensic analysis of the items took over one year, with child pornography reportedly being located in storage devices with more than 60 terabytes of storage. With the court’s permission, prosecutors brought footage of the pornography into evidence, which prompted the dismissal of a juror after she told court officials the exhibition of the evidence left her traumatized.
Denton’s attorney tried to argue that the devices containing the child pornography were possibly hacked and that the manner in which the investigation was conducted impeded the defense’s ability to find and use exculpatory evidence to bolster their case.
Jurors found Denton guilty of three counts of possession of child pornography, with one count including intent to distribute. In addition to being handed a 20-year prison sentence, Denton will also be required to register as a sex offender and undergo eight years of supervised release following his release from custody.