CHEYENNE, Wyoming — A federal judge sentenced a California man to 25 years in prison on Tuesday after authorities said he tried to coerce a 13-year-old Laramie County girl he met over the Internet to produce sexually explicit videos.
U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson in Cheyenne sentenced Christopher J. Beets, 24, of Santa Rosa, California, to 300 months in prison following his earlier guilty plea to attempted production of child pornography. The judge ordered Beets to register as a sex offender and remain under lifetime supervision following his release.
"It is difficult to know what drives people to commit the acts that they do," Johnson said in pronouncing sentence. "But in this case, the acts that are punished here are acts that are predatory in nature and very serious as to the injury to others that was occurring in this matter."
Johnson said locking up Beets for 25 years would remove him from society and send a warning to anyone considering such conduct.
Police arrested Beets last summer after the girl turned to her parents for help, saying a stranger she encountered on the Internet demanded she produce sexually explicit videos of herself and other children.
The girl's parents alerted police and the investigation by Wyoming's Internet Crimes against Children Task Force and local law enforcement led to charges against Beets.
According to an investigator's statement filed in court, Beets first asked the girl for nude photos of herself then pressured her to make explicit videos. Once he had those, the statement alleges, he pressured her to make videos with other children, threatening to distribute the material he already had received if she refused.
The agent assumed the girl's identity online and continued to communicate with Beets. In late May 2014, Beets said he wanted to come to Colorado, where he believed the girl was living and have sex with her and friends, authorities said.
Investigators traced computer addresses and phone-company records to match communications the girl received with accounts associated with Beets.
Federal prosecutor Jim Anderson said in court that two girls had undergone counseling as a result of Beets' actions. Johnson agreed to allow the girls' families 90 days to present claims for restitution against Beets to cover the cost of counseling.
Anderson dropped a second charge of attempted online enticement of a minor against Beets.
David Weiss, an assistant federal public defender who represented Beets, said his client's behavior was abhorrent. "Mr. Beets' behavior speaks for itself. There's nothing I can say about it," he said.
Weiss said Beets has been depressed about the prospect of spending so much time in prison but recently has realized that he needs to make the best of his situation.
"It's going to be a long haul," Weiss said of the prison time. "But I have seen some encouragement in the last month or so."
Beets, a burly man with close-cropped reddish-blonde hair, stood before Johnson wearing orange jail clothing, shackled at his wrists and ankles. He declined to make a statement to the judge.
Beets submitted a letter to Johnson this week stating that he's shocked by what he did, and that his actions don't represent his true nature.
"I'm going to show to everyone that the actions that were performed were not by the real me," he wrote.
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