SHERMAN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Clay Melton Denton, 56, of Allen was found guilty by a jury of federal child exploitation violations in the Eastern District of Texas.
Specifically, Denton was found guilty of distribution, receipt and possession of child pornography by a jury following a five-day trial before U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant, III.
“The sheer volume of devices and images recovered by investigators in this case is astounding. I commend the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force, the Garland and Plano Police Departments and the North Texas Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory for their diligence in processing evidence to best serve justice in this investigation,” said Dallas FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno. “With our partners, we are committed to ensuring that distributors of abusive content are held accountable so that we can protect our population’s most vulnerable members.”
According to the court documents and testimony at trial, in January and March 2018, undercover officers with the Plano Police Department and the Garland Police Department received child pornography, via an online platform, that had been distributed to them by a computer user. The officers traced the online conduct to the Denton residence in Allen.
Members of the FBI obtained a search warrant for the residence, which they served on April 25, 2018. The searching team discovered multiple digital devices in the home, including server racks, network area storage devices, laptops, hard drives, cellular phones, and digital storage media. Agents testified that the entire second story of the house was filled with floor-to-ceiling bookcases storing digital devices, manuals, and peripherals. Additional testimony revealed that forensic analysis of the seized devices took almost one year. During this forensic analysis, personnel discovered tens of thousands of images and videos of child pornography.
Specifically, evidence demonstrated that a laptop belonging to Denton and found on one of his desks contained the same software used to distribute child pornography to the undercover officers. That software was also used to obtain child pornography, which was saved on a different portion of Denton’s computer. Evidence also revealed that child pornography was located on a 60+ terabyte storage device that Denton owned and possessed.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Denton with federal violations on Sep. 11, 2019.
On June 11, 2021, the jury returned a guilty verdict on all counts of the indictment. Under federal statutes, Denton faces up to 20 years in federal prison.