Skip to content
Main Menu
Utah Attorney General
Attorney General
Sean D. Reyes
Utah Office of the Attorney General
Secondary Navigation

Child Pornography: The Harsh Reality & Legal Definition

This is the first in a series of articles written by the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force to bring awareness to the reality of crimes that the ICAC Task Force combats daily in order to protect children and to ultimately bring about an end to these atrocities.


Child pornography represents one of the cruelest and most horrific forms of sexual abuse against children. It preserves the very worst moments of a child’s life for the gratification and sexual pleasure of their abusers. The videos and images of child sexual abuse are traded, shared, and viewed as both currency and commodity. Some perpetrators use it as a tool to normalize their behavior and groom their victims. 

It is important to educate the public on what child pornography is, the way it is disseminated and traded, and how to protect your children from becoming victims of this kind of sexual exploitation.  

Legal Definition

Child pornography is, by definition, a depiction of a minor engaged or involved in sexually explicit conduct. The statutory definition for “Sexually Explicit Conduct” is found in Utah law under Utah Code Annotated 76-5b-103 with its own very specific definition:

“Sexually explicit conduct” means actual or simulated:

  • (a)        sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex;
  • (b)        masturbation;
  • (c)        bestiality;
  • (d)       sadistic or masochistic activities;
  • (e)        lascivious exhibition of the genitals, pubic region, buttocks, or female breast of any person;
  • (f)        the visual depiction of nudity or partial nudity for the purpose of causing sexual arousal of any person;
  • (g)        the fondling or touching of the genitals, pubic region, buttocks, or female breast; or
  • (h)        the explicit representation of the defecation or urination functions.             

It is important to address the actual legal definition of child pornography because there is a common misconception that any depiction of nudity involving a minor could potentially qualify as child pornography. There is a misplaced fear that a parent’s picture of their child in a bathtub could be criminal, or that a picture of a young child nude at a beach could be illegal. This could not be further from the truth. Not only would these types of images not qualify legally as child pornography, they are so far below the true depictions of child pornography that they do not warrant the attention of prosecutors and investigators.

True child pornography, in stark contrast to family photos of bath time and beach vacations, is now more than ever, immeasurably darker and more disturbing than is widely understood. The FBI reports there are now more investigations of child exploitation with a connection to the Internet than ever before. The surge in child pornography on the Internet has led to increased victimization and trafficking to meet the demand for new pictures and live video of sexual violence against increasingly younger children. The highest “value” images traded on-line are those which depict the youngest victims and the most bizarre sex acts. It is common in the prosecution of child pornography cases to see pre-pubescent children as young as infants and toddlers being raped, subjected to violent sexual torture and abuse, and forced to engage in acts of bestiality. Digital images of each child victim are trafficked worldwide, and there may be thousands of defendants found to possess each victim’s images. Cases routinely involve terabytes of child pornography videos and images, and ever more sophisticated technology and tactics designed to conceal these heinous acts.

As this series continues we will discuss the damage child pornography and continued distribution of images of the sexual abuse inflicts on its victims. How the harm to victims is compounded by the knowledge that offenders are viewing, trading and using the pornographic images of the child victim for sexual gratification, often years later. Finally, it will review tools and information for parents to help them prevent their children from becoming victims or exposure to this type of material. 

Report child pornography to law enforcement by contacting the ICAC Tip Line at 801.281.1211 or your local law enforcement agency.

Reporting Clergy Abuse

The Utah Attorney General’s Office works tirelessly to combat clergy abuse, and child abuse of any kind, through its Child Protection Division, the statewide network of Children’s Justice Centers, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, robust investigations, prosecution and victim advocacy. We do this is partnership with Child Protective Services, local law enforcement, and other agencies.

In the interest of protecting the innocent and bringing criminals to justice, we do not discuss ongoing investigations.

If you or someone you know has been sexually abused by a clergy member, or anyone else, please report this to the 24/7 Child Abuse Hotline at 855-323-3237 or call your local sheriff or police department. You may also contact our office during business hours at 801-281-1200.

In the News

November 28, 2018

Over the last few weeks, our investigators and prosecutors tracked down an alleged human trafficker, caught a guy with child porn, brought down a large Ponzi scheme, and arrested several men in Southern Utah accused of trying to meet up with minors.

These are just a few highlights of an office team working on thousands of cases in an effort to protect and keep all Utahns safe.

You can catch up on all you may have missed below. Thanks for paying attention.

Human Trafficking

Deseret News: Charges: Man forced women into prostitution, human trafficking
Salt Lake Tribune: Utah attorney general’s office arrests man for human trafficking after victims come forward
KSL: Man charged in human trafficking case
Fox13: Utah Attorney General’s Office arrest a man for human trafficking of two women
KUTV: Utah arrests man accused of prostituting, raping, kidnapping and beating two women

Child Pornography

KSL: Man accused of having 100 gigabytes of child porn facing federal charges
Standard-Examiner: Kaysville man accused of downloading, possessing 100 GB of child pornography

Ponzi Scheme

KJZZ: Utah man, company charged with taking $170M from hundreds of people in Ponzi scheme
Fox13: Authorities say Ponzi scheme at Rust Rare Coin in Utah took hundreds of victims for $170 million

Crimes Against Children

St. George News: Police arrest 7 men accused of attempting to meet boys, girls for sex
The Spectrum: 7 men accused of trying to meet with minors for sex in Washington County
KUTV: 6 men arrested for attempting to meet minors for sex in Washington County
abc4: 7 men arrested accused of trying to meet minors for sex

Photo by Roman Kraft

AG Office in Action

November 9, 2018

Protect the people of Utah. 

This is a big deal for the Utah Attorney General’s Office and one of its core functions. Domestic abuse, human and drug trafficking, sexual assault, crimes against children – the list of crimes that destroy our families and neighborhoods goes on and on. No matter what it is, our team of investigators and prosecutors work hard to remove from our communities those who would seek to take advantage or do us harm. 

Here’s a highlight of the last several weeks looking at the Office in action. Utah registered nurse convicted of sexual assault

KSL: Alleged big play in Utah drug trafficking charged

Standard Examiner: Nurse’s aide charged with abusing vulnerable adults appears in court

Gephardt Daily: Task force arrest Layton man for crimes against children

Daily Herald: Investigators say Lehi man created, sold fake green cards

Gephardt Daily: Smugglers arrested in Utah with 2.33 pounds of contraband after multi-agency operation

The Herald Journal: Logan man pleads guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor

Salt Lake Tribune: Utah nurse charged with beating a 2-year-old foster child to death

Deseret News: Salt Lake police officer arrested in child pornography investigation

Fox13Now: Salt Lake City officer arrested in child porn investigation Charges filed against police office in child pornography case

Standard-Examiner: Salt Lake City police officer, Syracuse man in jail for allegedly possessing child porn

Thanks for paying attention!

Man Charged with Six Counts of Sexual Exploitation

On June 25th, the Utah Attorney General’s Office tracked down a man believed to be engaged in illegal online sexual activity.  He had impersonated as some of his own relatives on numerous dating sites and sexually explicit websites. Investigators served a search warrant on his phone and found that he was also in possession of child pornography.

You can read the KSL story, below. 

KSL: Charges: Man posed as female relatives to post sexually explicit material 

A big thank you to the investigators and prosecutors of ICAC Task Forces around the state who work tirelessly to keep our families safe. 


Photo by Malik Earnest

Attorney General’s Office Announces Human Trafficking Arrests by ICAC and SECURE Strike Force

SALT LAKE CITY February 23, 2017 – In cooperation with local and national law enforcement agencies today, the Utah Attorney General’s Office (AGO) announced in a press conference the arrests of a number of individuals on human trafficking and child sex exploitation charges. The following contains information on the arrests, as well as cases studies and follow-up information on questions asked during the conference. The arrests are related to cases where victims of human trafficking were trafficked inside Utah. Some cases involved minors and some crossed state lines. As a result of the multi-agency action, involving 25 agencies, there were 16 arrests including two prior sex offenders and one parolee, and three children were rescued.

The Utah Attorney General’s office does not handle every case where a child is alleged to have been involved in sex trafficking. Cases are investigated and referred to other prosecutor’s offices throughout the state in the jurisdictions where the case arose. For various reasons, the Utah AGO cannot give the number of investigations, prosecutions, or convictions that would accurately convey the breadth of this crime throughout the state.

The Utah AGO office possesses the specific training, expertise, and resources needed for addressing human trafficking that allows the AGO to devote the time and attention needed to build these complicated cases. For this reason, many but not all of these cases are referred to the AGO for help. Some of the Sexual Exploitation of Minor cases involved the manufacturing of child pornography. Several of the suspects traveled across the state and state line to sexually abuse children.

Some of the Sexual Exploitation of Minor cases involved the manufacturing of child pornography. Several of the suspects traveled across the state and state line to sexually abuse children.

Charges filed include:

  • Rape of a Child (1st Degree Felony)
  • Sexual Exploitation of a Minor (2nd Degree Felony)
  • Enticing a Minor over the Internet (2nd Degree Felony)
  • Dealing in Harmful Material to a Child (3rd Degree Felony)
  • Failure to Register as a Sex Offender (3rd Degree Felony)
  • Criminal Charges (cont.)
  • Criminal Conspiracy (3rd Degree Felony)
  • Possession of Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute (2rd
  • Degree Felony)
  • Multiple other A and B Misdemeanors

Most cases had multiple counts of the same charge.

Partner agencies in the arrests include:

  • Adult Probation and Parole
  • Bountiful Police Department
  • Clearfield Police Department
  • Davis County Sheriff’s Office
  • Department of Public Safety
  • Enforcement and Removal Operations
  • Heber City Police Department
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • Ogden Police Department
  • Orem City Police Department
  • Park City Police Department
  • Pleasant Grove Police Department
  • Provo City Police Department
  • Sevier County Sheriff’s Office
  • South Salt Lake City Police Department
  • Summit County Sheriff’s Office
  • Syracuse Police Department
  • Tooele City Police Department
  • Unified Police Department
  • United States Marshal’s Office
  • Utah County Attorney’s Office
  • Utah County Sheriff’s Office
  • Vernal Police Department
  • Weber County Sheriff’s Office

The prosecuting agencies were the Utah Attorney General’s Office and the Utah County Attorney’s Office.

Cases where trafficking of a child may not result in charges for human trafficking

There are a few reasons why cases where children were trafficked for sex may not result in charges for human trafficking of a child:

  • Human Trafficking of a Child is a new area of criminal justice. It was only added to the Utah criminal code in 2015. In the old model of viewing these cases, many times the child being sex trafficked was arrested for prostitution and adjudicated delinquent in the juvenile justice system. Only in the last year did Utah pass a “safe harbor” provision for children engaged in the sex trade that clarifies they should be treated as victims and referred to services.
  • While the safe harbor provision has helped protect child victims of sex trafficking from improper criminal charges, the criminal justice field at large still has a long way to go in shifting from viewing this crime into a human trafficking lens. In some jurisdictions, these cases are still investigated through the lens of prostitution and not human trafficking. Sometimes suspects are charged with exploiting prostitution even in cases where children were sex trafficked.
  • Another component of the safe harbor philosophy is that we should avoid re-victimizing those preyed on by sex traffickers by pressuring them to participate in the criminal justice process. In our office, we often prosecute defendants who we have reason to believe are traffickers with other related offenses, either because the victim does not want to participate in our criminal case or to protect them from having to do so if we can secure justice through other charges.

Case studies and updates on previous human trafficking arrests

Among the cases reported on today is the AGO’s prosecution of William Piol Makuei: Mauei was charged with three counts of 1st Degree Felony Rape of a Child after his DNA was found to match the newborn child of a girl who was impregnated before she turned 14. He later admitted to having sex with the child victim. This case arose from a human trafficking tip and ensuing investigation

The following two cases were not included in today’s briefing, but are provided here as updates to arrests previous reported.

  • Charles Daryl Kelley:  Kelley was convicted in July 2016 of Attempted Human Trafficking of a Child, after he attempted to recruit a 15-year-old girl into a commercial sex operation he was running out of a motel in Midvale. 
  • Quinlen Nathaniel Atkinson: Last April, Mr. Atkinson was charged with 1st Degree Felony Human Trafficking of a Child, 1st Degree Felony Aggravated Exploitation of Prostitution Involving a Child, and several other felony charges based on allegations that he was running a commercial sex operation from Ogden to Idaho and Southern Utah. Both girls he is accused of manipulating into joining his operation were high school students. At the time of the known offenses, one of the girls had recently turned 18 and the other was 17 years old. This case is awaiting trial in Weber County.

Tip Line Numbers

Individuals with tips are encouraged to contact the Utah Attorney General’s tip lines:

The PowerPoint Presentation utilized at the press conference is embedded below.


Utah AGO Warns Against Internet Predators

Anywhere children can go on the internet, whether it is a social site or an app, you will inevitably find predators. Each year, the Utah Attorney General’s Office receives between 4,000 and 6,000 complaints about inappropriate contact with children online.

To keep your children safe, take proactive steps to protect your children online, said Jessica Farnsworth, Section Chief of the Internet Crimes Against Children’s taskforce in the Utah Attorney General’s Office in an ABC4 report. Investigate your children’s accounts and actively look at what your children are doing and posting online. Be sure to adjust privacy settings to set accounts to private and turn off location tracking. Pay close attention to who they’re communicating with and maintain an open dialogue about their activities there.

Utah Attorney General’s Office Announces Conviction of Emilio Daniel Chavez for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

SALT LAKE CITY December 9, 2016 – The Utah Attorney General’s Office announces the guilty conviction of Emilio Daniel Chavez, age 26, on four counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, all second-degree felonies, in Third District Court.  During an investigation by the Utah AGO’s Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce, investigators found over 1,385 images of interest on Chavez’s computer.

“Few things are as tragic as the sexual exploitation of children and my Office will always fight to bring to justice those who take advantage of the young and vulnerable,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “I congratulate Assistant Attorneys General Cynthia Poulson and Ken Burgraaff, as well as Section Director Shelley Coudreaut and Division Director Greg Ferbrache, for their work on this case. I also congratulate and thank the ICAC Task Force investigators who, because they often work undercover, fail to get the recognition they deserve.”

Chavez admitted to investigators that he owned the password-protected computer and admitted to downloading the images for his sexual gratification. Of the 1,385 images found on Chavez’s computer, the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children identified four of the images as known identified child victims.  Assistant Attorney General Cynthia Poulson charged the defendant with four counts of second-degree felony Sexual Exploitation of a Minor.

At a three-day trial, AAGs  Poulson and Burggraaf presented the State’s case to the jury.  In his defense, Chavez took the stand and testified he had no knowledge of the images and implied that investigators had lied about his confession.  

Ultimately, the jury did not believe Chavez’s version of events and found the testimony of the investigators to be credible and persuasive stating “the forensic evidence in the case and defendants internet history were very helpful considerations” in coming to their decision.  Chavez is scheduled for sentencing on January 17, 2017.

# # #

Site SettingsSettings