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Jury convicts Fresno-area youth club director for enticement of a minor

FRESNO, Calif. – A former director of the Firebaugh Boys and Girls Club was recently found guilty by a federal jury on child exploitation charges, following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and the Firebaugh Police Department.

Juan Martin Torres, 28, of Firebaugh, was found guilty on one count of enticing a minor to engage in unlawful sexual activity. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.

According to evidence presented at trial, a 14-year-old victim working to complete 120 hours of community service under Torres’ supervision reported to police that Torres sent him messages over Facebook offering to shortcut his hours of community service requirement if the boy would agree to engage in sexual acts with Torres.

“When individuals who are entrusted to serve as role models for our children violate that trust, there will be zero tolerance,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge for HSI San Francisco, which oversees HSI’s enforcement efforts throughout northern California. “Those who exploit their access to young people to gratify their own perverse sexual desires are on notice that there will be serious consequences for those actions.”

Torres, who is currently in state custody on other charges, is scheduled to be sentenced May 9 by U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii. He faces a statutory penalty of no less than 10 years and up to life in prison years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 14,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2015, nearly 2,400 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims identified or rescued.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.