A 21-year-old Cedar Rapids man was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison Tuesday for exploiting minors and receiving child pornography.
Jason Smith, a member of the Iowa National Guard, pleaded guilty to one count of sexual exploitation of minors-receipt of child pornography in October. Two other counts of sexual exploitation of minors- distribution of child pornography and possession of child pornography were dismissed as part of the plea deal. He could have received five to 20 years on the receipt count.
Smith enticed at least two 13-year-old boys to perform a live sex act which he videotaped in 2011, according to court documents. He also shared and received images of child pornography over the internet between 2011 and April 2013.
U.S. District Chief Judge Linda Reade said this case was about more than “peeping” at images.
“This is about enticing children,” Reade said.
Smith over the internet pretended to be a teenaged girl to persuade these boys, and then made videos, Reade said. He possessed an “extraordinary” number of images – 1,940 videos and 31,735 photos. The prosecutor gave him a “charging break” because he could have asked for upward variance in the sentencing guideline, based on the number of images, which could have added more prison time, she said.
Reade said some of the victims in the child pornography Smith received had been identified through the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children. She declined to order restitution for a victim who had submitted a request because she said it was too difficult to assess damages to just one offender who had viewed this victim.
Smith during the hearing said he felt “terrible” for decisions he made.
“I feel like a monster…like scum of the earth,” Smith, who started to tear up, said.
Smith said he didn’t realize he was hurting the children in those images. He admitted that he had hurt more people than he had ever helped.
His parents and several friends and family members submitted letters of support to the court. They said Smith was a good person who had always cared for and helped others.
Reade said it wasn’t unusual for someone like Smith, who was described as responsible and caring, to be a sex offender. There may be a perception of what “these people look like” but there is no pattern. She has had a 10-year-old sex offender and even an 80-year-old in court in the past. Many have no criminal history and maintain stable employment. What they have in common is their “preoccupation” with children.