An Indian Land man who had more than 150,000 child porn pictures on his computer has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Ray Gene Cook Jr., 63, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Lancaster County criminal court to one count of sexual exploitation of a child in a negotiated plea agreement, said Robert Kittle, spokesman for the S.C. Attorney General’s Office.
Cook had initially been charged in 2016 with 17 counts of sexual exploitation of minors after Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office deputies found pornography on Cook’s electronics.
Special agent Kevin Atkins with the S.C. Attorney General’s Office was able to download files containing child porn from Cook’s computer in 2016, according to police and prosecutors. Lancaster County Deputy Spencer McIlvaine then found the 150,000-plus files of child porn on Cook’s computer, phone,and other electronics, prosecutors said.
Alan Wilson, S.C. Attorney General, said child porn cases will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted.
“I hope this sentence sends a message to the others out there who have and share child pornography that we will find you and lock you up,” Wilson said in a statement to The Herald.
Cook was investigated by the federal Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, run in South Carolina by the attorney general’s office. The task force has more than 4,500 police agencies nationwide that target crimes against children with a specific emphasis on Internet crimes, prosecutors said.
Both Lancaster County and York County have sex crime investigators who work with the South Carolina and federal task forces. Detectives have charged suspects who shared and made child porn in cases dating back to 2016.
A former California teacher now retired and living in York County was arrested in February by York County deputies with the task force after he had 9,800 child porn photos, according to arrest warrants.
The federal government also has a team of investigators from Homeland Security who investigate child porn cases. Earlier this month, a Former Fort Mill teacher was arrested by federal agents for sharing child pornography with a Virginia man while teaching at a coastal South Carolina school district in 2016.