BOSTON–A citizen of the United Kingdom, and most recently of Worcester, was sentenced Sept. 17 to more than 26 years followed by a lifetime term of supervised release for solicitation to commit a crime of violence – kidnapping of a child – and distribution and possession of child pornography.
The sentencing is the result of an extensive worldwide investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
In accordance with a plea agreement signed in May 2013, Geoffrey Portway was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Hillman to 320 months in prison and a lifetime of supervised release. Additionally, Portway faces deportation to the United Kingdom following his release from prison.
“Mr. Portway made his intentions explicitly clear in online conversations with depraved like-minded individuals. The sophisticated child torture chamber he built in his basement also clearly demonstrated his strong desires to ensnare a child victim,” said Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. “There is no doubt in my mind that given the right set of circumstances, Mr. Portway would have acted on those perverse urges. Fortunately, as a result of today’s significant sentence, he will never have an opportunity to pursue his sordid desires. I commend the exceptional work of the HSI special agents, federal prosecutors and the many other law enforcement partners who contributed to Operation Holitna’s overwhelming success in rescuing some 167 child victims and the arrest of 54 predators worldwide.”
“The facts of this case are disturbing and alarming. I applaud our law enforcement partners for aggressively tracking down the defendant and others that share his perverse desires,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “The sentence Mr. Portway received today sends the message that the Department of Justice will ardently pursue those who exploit children, the most vulnerable, innocent and impressionable population of our country. Thanks to the dedication and coordination of local, state and federal law enforcement, there is not a place in the United States, or on the Internet, where these predators can hide.”
According to the agreed upon statement of facts, Geoffrey Portway, 40, engaged in numerous chats with many individuals about a mutual interest in abducting, raping, murdering and eating children. Many of these conversations were accompanied by the trading of child pornography. These chats also included images of children known to them, accompanied by discussions of the desire to sexually abuse, murder and cannibalize those children. As stated in court filings, through his online chats, Portway solicited several people for their help in abducting a child, predominately from Michael D. Arnett, 38, of Roeland Park, Kan.
At least as early as 2010, Portway utilized Skype and other programs to communicate with Arnett, trading child pornography including images of injured, mutilated and deceased children while chatting about the sexual abuse, rape, abduction, murder and cannibalism of children. Over months, Portway repeatedly solicited Arnett to kidnap a child for him, with the intent that Portway would ultimately rape, kill and eat that child. These solicitations for help abducting a child included discussing real children – by name and photo – that Arnett claimed to know and have access to.
In the chats, Portway and Arnett discuss different ways to kidnap children and the age range that Portway prefers. During the time that Portway was soliciting Arnett, Portway was told Arnett had helped others with such requests, and Arnett had experience with the abduction and sexual abuse of children. Arnett has since pleaded guilty in Kansas to the sexual exploitation of a child for the purposes of producing child pornography.
According to additional court documents throughout the United States, Arnett was also communicating on the Internet with other child pornography suspects. The following have been arrested and charged as part of this international child pornography investigation; these suspects communicated directly with Arnett via the Internet: Ronald Brown, 57, of Largo, Fla.; Robert Mucha, 56, of Newton, N.J.; Jason Scarcello, 42, of Anderson, Calif.; and Richard Dates, 67, of Grant, N.M.
HSI also arrested Robert Poe III, 38, of Kansas City, Kan., Aug. 10, 2012. Following the publicity of the Arnett arrest, Poe was identified in May 2012 after a victim came forward and reported he and his brother were both sexually molested as minors by Poe and Arnett. Poepleaded guilty Feb. 19.
On July 27, 2012, HSI special agents along with state and local police, executed a federal search warrant at Portway’s residence in Worcester. Various computers and digital devices containing Portway’s child pornography collection were seized, in addition to the computer he used to trade child photography and attempt to plan the abduction of a child.
During the execution of the search warrant, agents also discovered a locked door in the basement of the residence. Behind the door was a sally port that led to a second door with a keyed lock. Beyond the second door was a dungeon, which was lined with acoustical sound-deadening material, a chair, television and what appeared to be cable access to the Internet. The room also contained a child-sized homemade coffin – with large speakers covered in wire mesh at one end – with exterior locking devices, a steel cage – approximately 3′ wide, 2′ high and 4′ long – with multiple locking devices, and a steel table top – with steel rings at six points, presumably for restraints. Outside these rooms were a cabinet freezer, an upright freezer, disposable scalpels, butchering kits and castration tools. This dungeon was described in detail by Portway in recovered chats as a place he intended to use to keep kidnapped children while he sexually abused them, and as a place to eventually murder and cannibalize the children.
A forensic examination of the computers uncovered more than 4,500 trades of child pornography between Portway and others. Many of these trades involved Portway distributing child pornography to others based on their stated specific preferences, including images and videos appearing to depict dead children and the cannibalism of children.
The sentencing is part of Operation Holitna, an ongoing HSI-led investigation that originated in Boston. In 2010, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts and HSI Boston arrested Robert Diduca on child pornography production charges. He was convicted and subsequently sentenced in June 2012. Forensic analysis of Diduca’s computer led investigators to the Netherlands where a Dutch national was arrested and charged with production, distribution and possession of child pornography, as well as the sexual assault of 87 minors. Since that time, a worldwide network of offenders has been, and continues to be, unraveled, including today’s defendant. Defendants and victims continue to be identified around the world.