Jury Convicts Recidivist Defendant of Possessing Child Pornography

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A federal jury in the Eastern District of Virginia convicted a Virginia man yesterday for possession of child pornography.  

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, James B. Clawson Sr., 58, of Alexandria, was previously convicted of distribution of child pornography after law enforcement learned that he was serving as an administrator of an online forum dedicated to trafficking in child sexual abuse material. In 2019, while Clawson was serving a term of federal supervised release in connection with this conviction, a U.S. probation officer discovered that he was concealing a laptop computer and multiple thumb drives in his home. Clawson told the probation officer that he had built a hidden compartment in a shelving unit in his closet to conceal the devices because he did not want to have his internet activity monitored.

“James Clawson is a repeat child sex offender who has demonstrated that he cannot and will not be deterred from downloading images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The department is committed to working closely with our law enforcement partners to ensure that child sex offenders like Clawson will be held accountable for their crimes.”  

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“The evidence at trial demonstrated that the defendant’s prior conviction for distributing child pornography unfortunately did not deter him from continuing to seek out such heartbreaking and illegal images,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Thanks to the diligent efforts of the trial team and our law enforcement partners, the defendant has been held accountable for his recidivist conduct by a jury of his peers.”


“Child exploitation sites present a grave danger to children and unprecedented challenges to the world’s law enforcement agencies,” said Assistant Director Calvin Shivers of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “Today’s verdict demonstrates the FBI’s ongoing commitment to pursue individuals engaging in child exploitation offenses and secure justice for children that are victimized by this egregious conduct.”

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“Recidivism is a real problem among convicted sex offenders,” said Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “As this jury verdict shows, the FBI is committed to bringing individuals like Clawson – who continued to exploit children even after they have been caught once – to justice no matter what it takes. The safety of our children is a priority for the FBI, and we will stop at nothing to protect them.”

Evidence presented at trial established that Clawson used the laptop to search for and repeatedly download from the internet images and videos of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and then stored those images on one of his thumb drives. The evidence further established that Clawson sorted these child sexual abuse images on his thumb drive and assigned them files names based on the specific sexually explicit conduct they depicted. 

Clawson was convicted of possession of child pornography. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1 and faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine the sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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The FBI investigated the case, with significant assistance from the High Technology Investigative Unit of the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS).

Trial Attorney William G. Clayman of CEOS and Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth M. Schlessinger of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.

This case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force is composed of FBI agents, along with other federal agents and detectives from northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. The task force is charged with investigating and bringing federal charges against individuals engaged in the exploitation of children and those engaged in human trafficking.