Foster E. Phelps, 39, has been sentenced to 70 months (5.8 years) in federal prison after being found guilty on a single-count indictment charging him with possessing images of child pornography. This fell well within the advisory guidelines of his sentencing, as Phelps could have received up to 87 months (7.3 years). The US District Court Judge of Vermont, Judge William K. Sessions III, ordered him to serve an additional five years of supervised release once Phelps completes his initial term.
Phelps has been dutifully addressing his issues with alcoholism. That was heavily considered in his sentencing by the judge.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) began to focus on Phelps in 2011. He had been participating in an online message board specifically dedicated to the exchange of illicit child pornography.
The FBI and the Vermont State Police executed a search warrant at Phelps’ West Topsham residence on February 2, 2012. Amidst executing the warrant, authorities found over a thousand discs contained images of prepubescent children being sexually abused.
The United States Attorney noted that this prosecution is part of the US Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.
The United States Department of Justice outlines Project Safe Childhood (PSC) as a comprehensive strategy led by the US Attorney’s Office and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. PSC specifically targets preventing child exploitation, identifying and rescuing possible victims, and pursuing criminals guilty of related crimes.
Initiated in May 2006, Project Safe Childhood unifies law enforcement, community action, and public awareness in order to reduce incidences of sexual exploitation and abuse of children. Since the launch of PSC in 2006, the number of related prosecutions by United States Attorney’s Offices increased by 40 percent, with 2,315 indictments against 2,427 defendants filed in 2009.