A former acting director of cybersecurity at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) who said he was interested in the rape and murder of children has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for child pornography charges.
Timothy DeFoggi, 56, formerly of Germantown, Md., was convicted in August of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, conspiracy to advertise and distribute child pornography and accessing a computer with intent to view child pornography, according to a Justice Department press release.
“Using the same technological expertise he employed as Acting Director of Cyber Security at HHS, DeFoggi attempted to sexually exploit children and traffic in child pornography through an anonymous computer network of child predators,” Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said in a statement.
DeFoggi used Tor, software designed to protect Internet users’ identities, to access a child porn Web site between March and December of 2012, when the site was shut down. But he didn’t just look.
“Through the website, DeFoggi accessed child pornography, solicited child pornography from other members, and exchanged private messages with other members in which he expressed an interest in the violent rape and murder of children,” the press release said. “DeFoggi suggested meeting one member in person to fulfill their mutual fantasies to violently rape and murder children.”
Tor cloaked such interactions.
Tor protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location,” according to torproject.org, where the software can be downloaded.
DeFoggi was arrested after a sting targeting three child pornography Web sites accessible through Tor. Tor and its users do not have shining reputations. One study said 80 percent of visits to Tor’s “hidden services” were related to child sex abuse.
“Before we did this study, it was certainly my view that the dark net is a good thing,” one researcher told Wired last month. “But it’s hampering the rights of children and creating a place where pedophiles can act with impunity.”
Five other Tor users were previously convicted of similar crimes but DeFoggi’s sentence was the longest.