TERRE HAUTE —
U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Hogsett announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s ongoing Project Safe Childhood initiative, which aims to protect Hoosier children and hold accountable those targeting them for exploitation, has resulted in a criminal complaint charging Ryan C. Bieler, age 33, of Ireland, Ind.
Bieler is alleged to have received and possessed sexually explicit materials depicting minor children. Bieler was most recently employed as a Senior District Executive of the Boy Scouts Buffalo Trace Council, which is based in Evansville and includes five counties: Warrick, Spencer, Perry, Pike and Dubois.
“These types of cases are troubling, but they are made even more disturbing when the individuals charged are those who occupy positions of trust with our children,” Hogsett said. “Today’s announcement marks the beginning of our investigation — not the end — and our office will not rest as we seek justice for those who may have been victimized by these alleged acts.”
Bieler’s photograph has been released by federal authorities so that adults and youths who recognize Bieler as having possible inappropriate contact with minor children can contact authorities.
The complaint alleges that Bieler admitted to law enforcement that he had a sexual interest in minor children, with the materials located indicating a strong interest in minor boys. Investigators also allegedly located written material in the defendant’s home in which Bieler describes his physical attraction to particular boys he has had access to and interaction with through his positions with the Boy Scouts of America. Hogsett said the Boy Scouts of America were fully cooperating with federal law enforcement in their efforts.
Hogsett said that due to the developing nature of this investigation, and the written materials located within the home, he encourages anyone with information about the case to contact the U.S. Postal Inspector at 317-328-2512. Federal law enforcement also released a photograph of the defendant. Hogsett said formal charges by indictment or information were expected in the coming weeks, at which time additional criminal counts could be added.
“I urge parents to talk to their children, and I ask anyone with information about this case to contact the federal authorities as we move forward with this investigation,” Hogsett added. “I also continue to pledge that our Project Safe Childhood team will be vigorous in the investigation and prosecution of anyone who endangers the safety of children here in Indiana, or anywhere else.”
“The United States Postal Inspection Service’s mission to enforce the laws that defend the nation’s mail system has never been so vital as in this investigation involving the arrest of this individual allegedly involved in the misuse of the mail to receive and send child pornography,” said E.C. Woodson, Inspector in Charge. “We are committed to the protection of all, but there is a special emphasis on protecting our children, our nation’s future, against victimization at the hands of sexual predators.”
According to the complaint, a joint investigation between the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and foreign law enforcement officials began in October 2010, centering on a movie production company located outside the United States. On May 1, 2011, a search warrant was executed at offices owned by this company, and law enforcement seized hundreds of DVD movies and photographs allegedly depicting sexually explicit conduct by children. It was allegedly determined that these images and movies were being shipped worldwide, and documents listing customers were located and analyzed.
As a result of this investigation, it is alleged that a customer of the movie company was located in Ireland, Ind., and the records identified that individual as Ryan Bieler. On Nov. 1, a search warrant was issued for his address, and on Nov. 8, that warrant was executed. The complaint alleges that Bieler was home during the search, and agreed to speak with investigators.
During the search of the defendant’s home, a number of data storage discs were allegedly located and preliminarily examined, including DVDs purchased from the international movie company. Many of these discs allegedly depict minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. In addition, an initial forensic examination of the defendant’s home computer allegedly revealed more images and movies depicting child pornography. Bieler is alleged to have admitted to downloading and purchasing these materials during an interview with law enforcement.
This case was brought by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, along with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) and the Indiana State Police, as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more on Project Safe Childhood, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Shellenbarger, who is prosecuting the case for the government, Bieler could face up to 10 years in prison for the count of possession of child pornography, and up to 20 years for the count of receiving child pornography, as well as substantial fines if he is found guilty. Bieler has been detained while he awaits a trial date, which has not been set at this time.