Mercer County Man Sentenced to Five Years In State Prison for Distributing Child Sexual Abuse Materials Online Using File-Sharing Software

Herbert Bell, 58, of Ewing, N.J., was sentenced to five years in state prison, including 2 ½ years of parole ineligibility

September 2, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a Mercer  County man was sentenced to state prison today for using file-sharing software to distribute child sexual abuse materials on the internet.

Herbert Bell, 58, of Ewing, N.J., was sentenced to five years in state prison, including 2 ½ years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Darlene J. Pereksta in Mercer County.  He will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life.  Bell pleaded guilty on Sept. 23, 2019 to a second-degree charge of storing or maintaining child sexual abuse materials using a file-sharing program.

Deputy Attorney General Thomas Huynh prosecuted Bell for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau.

Bell was arrested on Aug. 10, 2018, when detectives of the New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Unit, assisted by other members of the New Jersey Regional ICAC Task Force, executed a search warrant at his residence.  A State Police detective previously downloaded 14 files of child sexual abuse material from a shared folder at an IP address traced to Bell.  During the search, detectives seized a desktop computer belonging to Bell. A forensic examination of the computer revealed approximately 3,000 files of child sexual abuse material on the computer.

“We are determined to seek substantial prison sentences for offenders like Bell, because the more they collect and distribute these abhorrent materials, the more they drive the terrible sexual abuse of young children,” said Attorney General Grewal.  “We will continue to collaborate across all levels of law enforcement to bring these criminals to justice.”

“We monitor the internet on a daily basis with our law enforcement partners to apprehend the offenders who exploit and re-victimize children by distributing child sexual abuse materials,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice.  “We want these criminals to know that when we catch them, they will face serious prison time.”

“By repeatedly sharing images of abuse, Bell is just as responsible for robbing the victims of their innocence and shattering the lives of their families as those who committed these unspeakable acts,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.  “The New Jersey State Police ICAC Unit will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect our youth from the re-victimization caused by file sharing and send a clear message to offenders that we will utilize every tool at our disposal to bring them to justice.”

Just last week, Attorney General Grewal announced arrests of 21 sex offenders as a result of a collaborative operation led by the New Jersey ICAC Task Force.  They included 18 defendants charged with possessing and/or distributing child sexual abuse materials, and three charged with sexually assaulting or attempting to sexually assault children.

More details of the 21 arrests in “Operation Screen Capture” are available on our website:

https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases20/pr20200826a.html

The file-sharing networks used by offenders to distribute child sexual abuse materials operate in the same manner as websites used for privately sharing music or movies.  Those in possession of the illegal images can make them available on computers that they control for others to download.  Because many of the videos and photos of child sexual abuse shared on these networks keep recirculating, they result in the perpetual re-victimization of the children who were sexually assaulted or abused to produce them.

Attorney General Grewal and Director Allende urged anyone with information about the distribution of child sexual abuse materials on the internet – or about suspected improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children via the internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children – to contact the New Jersey ICAC Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.

Defense Attorney: Mark G. Davis, Esq., Hamilton, N.J.