Former State Court Victim Advocate Sentenced to 9 Years for Distributing Child Sexual Abuse Material

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and David Sundberg, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced that ROBERT ECCLESTON, 58, of Canton, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to 108 months of imprisonment, followed by 10 years of supervised release, for distributing images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children.

According to court documents and statements made in court, in 2020, covert FBI personnel in two different field offices outside of Connecticut were monitoring various public groups on the social medial application Kik.  In August and September 2020, Eccleston, using the Kik usernames “hartfordctguy” and “Mowgli100,” distributed numerous pornographic images and videos of children in these Kik groups, including images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of toddlers and prepubescent children.  Eccleston also served as an administrator of two Kik groups and required prospective members to send him videos of child sexual abuse for group access.

Eccleston was arrested on December 11, 2020.  At the time of the offense, he was employed as a Victim Services Advocate for the Hartford Superior Court in Hartford.

Eccleston has been detained since his arrest.  On January 24, 2022, he pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of child pornography.

As part of his sentence, Judge Shea ordered Eccleston to pay a total of $25,000 to four victims of his offense, $35,000 to the Child Pornography Victims Reserve, $5,000 to the Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund, and a $30,000 fine.

“This case is a harsh reminder that the sexual exploitation of children occurs across all segments of our community,” said U.S. Attorney Avery.  “Based on the position this defendant held while engaging in such reprehensible conduct, this case represents a tremendous violation of trust on multiple levels.  We thank the FBI and our other law enforcement partners for investigating and rooting out these crimes wherever they exist, and we further thank the dedicated professionals of the Office of Victim Services of the Judicial Branch of the State of Connecticut for their assistance and continued service to victims throughout Connecticut.”

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“This case shines a light on why we in law enforcement exhaust all means available to protect our most vulnerable population,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Sundberg.  “Sexual crimes against children will always be a top priority for the FBI.”

This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Avon Police Department.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Angel M. Krull.

This prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood Initiative, which is aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

To report cases of child exploitation, please visit www.cybertipline.com.