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Key member of child porn ring sentenced
Arrest was part of international investigation
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Forsyth County News

GAINESVILLE — A 26-year-old Forsyth County man was sentenced to 11 years in prison Tuesday for his role in an international child pornography ring.

 

Joseph Gittings was arrested in November 2009 on charges of distributing child pornography and indicted by a federal grand jury in March 2010. 

 

His arrest was part of the takedown of the “Boy Lover Network” Web forum, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

 

Gittings was sentenced Tuesday by Senior District Court Judge William C. O’Kelley.

 

Gittings’ federal prison sentence will be followed by a lifetime of supervised release. He also will be required to register as a sex offender, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

 

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates praised the outcome.

 

“While everyone is free to express their views, when their thoughts become actions and they collect and share child pornography, they step across the line separating free speech from crime,” she said. “This defendant clearly crossed that line and for that he is being justly punished.”

 

According to Yates and court documents, the investigation began in March 2009, when the Australian Federal Police arrested a longtime member of the “Boy Lover Network” online forum. 

 

Documents show the suspect, in turn, identified Gittings as being a senior member and administrator of the network. 

 

Gittings reportedly worked closely with Amir Hurwitz, the Netherlands-based leader of the network, with Gittings providing technical support and participating in the senior leadership of the forum.

 

In the investigation that followed, the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed Gittings’ role and tracked him to his Cumming home.

 

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, the agents were eventually able to develop a U.S.-based cooperating source, who was also a member of the network.

 

In October 2009, Gittings provided the cooperating source with two DVDs filled with images and videos of child pornography, documents show. He was arrested the next month.