A Raleigh man who was formerly a student at Liberty University has been sentenced to 26 years in prison for manufacturing child pornography.
Justin Cole Milam, 22, was sentenced Thursday in federal court, U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon announced.
Milam pleaded guilty on Oct. 12. He had in his possession several images portraying “sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence," according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Google gave a tip related to the upload of child pornography to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2015. That tip led to a federal investigation.
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Authorities searched the apartment of a convicted sex-offender living in Carpinteria, California. The man admitted to law enforcement that he used a smartphone – found in his apartment containing approximately 1,500 images and videos – to store and share pornographic material via a messenger application.
Forensic evidence showed that he shared child pornography with Milam.
Milam had been a student at Liberty University, a Christian school in Virginia, when he exchanged 77 messages with the California man, according to authorities.
The FBI searched Milam's home in North Carolina on Jan. 12, 2017. Milam told law enforcement that he had begun “trading” child pornographic material two years prior to the time of the search, the DOJ said.
An external hard drive containing about 986 images and 117 videos of child pornography was found in Milam's bedroom. Sixty-nine of those images and one of the videos showed sexual abuse of infants and toddlers, authorities say.
Milam shared and received child pornography with over 130 different users of an online messaging system. System users and Milam discussed the abuse of children, according to law enforcement.
“During multiple chat conversations with minors, Milam requested they create and send pornographic images of themselves performing sexual acts,” a DOJ news release stated. “As the investigation progressed, agents identified 10 minors who forwarded Milam pornographic images and/or videos of themselves at the request of Milam.”
Milam was sentenced to 312 months behind bars and a lifetime of supervision after release. He also must pay a $4,000 fine.
"The sentence imposed by the court is extremely appropriate and should be a warning to others who would threaten our children in this way," Higdon said.