A 39-year-old resident of New Caney has been taken into custody on federal charges of sexual exploitation of a child, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.
Joshua James Holmstedt is suspected of actively engaging in the sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of a minor female under the age of five, according to the charges. He was taken into federal custody today and made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena Hanovice Palermo at 10:00 a.m. At that time, he was temporarily ordered into custody pending a probable cause and detention hearing set for July 27 at 2:00 p.m.
According to the criminal complaint, Holmstedt engaged in conversations via a specific social media forum believed to be frequented by individuals who have a sexual interest in children. The service randomly pairs users in one-on-one chat sessions where they can chat anonymously. Users type in search words and the forum pairs them with random strangers who typed in the same search words. Holmstedt allegedly saw a post that contained terms commonly associated with the sexual exploitation of children and had responded to it.
During the course of the chats, Holmstedt allegedly claimed he was sexually active with a minor female and claimed he watched pornographic material with her. Holmstedt later sent an image and four videos he claimed were of the minor, some of which focused on her vagina, according to the charges. He also allegedly sent other videos of other prepubescent children engaged in sexual acts and masturbation.
If convicted, Holmstedt faces a minimum of 15 and up to 30 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
The FBI conducted the investigation with assistance of the Montgomery County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Zack is prosecuting the case, which 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 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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”