Ponte Vedra Beach Man Sentenced To More Than Six Years In Federal Prison For Distributing Child Sexual Abuse Videos Over The Internet

Jacksonville, Florida – Chief United States District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan has sentenced George Thomas Griffiths, Jr. (43, Ponte Vedra Beach) to six years and three months in federal prison for distributing videos and images depicting young children being sexually abused. Griffiths was also ordered to serve a 15-year term of supervised release, forfeit his smartphone, and register as a sex offender. Griffiths had pleaded guilty on May 27, 2022.

According to court documents, an FBI task force officer began an undercover investigation using a particular social media application (“app”) to identify individuals attempting to sexually exploit children using the internet. Between February 3 and February 20, 2020, an app user named “ban_me_again,” who was subsequently identified as Griffiths, uploaded several videos depicting children being sexually abused to a public chat room on the app. Meanwhile, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office (SJSO) received information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that the same app had reported that this same user had uploaded videos depicting child sexual abuse materials during this same time period. Further investigation revealed that Griffiths had distributed these videos over the internet from his home and from his place of employment. At that time, Griffiths worked at a health care facility in Jacksonville as an x-ray technologist.    

On November 19, 2020, SJSO detectives and personnel, together with agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), executed a search warrant at Griffiths’s residence and seized a smartphone used by Griffiths. During an interview, Griffiths stated, among other things, that he had used the particular app to talk to individuals over the internet. He also stated that it was “possible” that he had exchanged pictures and videos on the app, and that these materials “possibly” included “bestiality” involving both adults and children. When asked how many times he distributed child sexual abuse materials, Griffiths first responded, “I don’t know” and then clarified, “more than one or two.”

Subsequent examination of Griffiths’s phone revealed that it contained at least 2,000 images and at least 10 videos depicting children being sexually abused, including infants and toddler-aged children. 

This case was investigated by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown. Assistant United States Attorney Mai Tran handled the forfeiture of Griffith’s electronic device.

It is another case 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.justice.gov/psc.

Originally published at https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/pr/ponte-vedra-beach-man-sentenced-more-six-years-federal-prison-distributing-child

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