Nationwide Child Porn Investigation Leads to Couple's Arrest in Oregon
Online videos allegedly show woman having sexual contact with two children
CNN Wire Staff
September 06, 2012(CNN) -- A nationwide search for a suspected female child pornographer has ended with the arrest of a woman and her husband in Oregon, federal authorities said Wednesday.
Investigators launched a nationwide search for the woman, now identified as 40-year-old Michelle Lee Freeman, last month after finding online videos of her having sexual contact with two children.
At the time they did not know her identity or that of the children in the images, so the Homeland Security Investigations unit of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement launched a public plea for information and released a photo of the woman.
Tuesday, Freeman and her husband, Michael Serapis Freeman, 39, surrendered to police in their hometown of Salem after learning an acquaintance had identified Michelle Freeman as the woman in the photo.
They made their initial appearance in federal court Wednesday, charged with sexual exploitation of children, namely the production of child pornography
"This is a tragic example of children being manipulated and victimized," said Salem Police Chief Jerry Moore. "We are committed to protecting the children in our community and we appreciate the close working relationship that we have with our partners in the federal law enforcement system in bringing those who abuse children to justice."
According to the criminal complaint in U.S. District Court in Oregon, the couple is accused of producing child pornography videos featuring them engaging in sexual conduct with their two daughters, 9 and 6.
Michael Freeman traded some of the photos with a person online for other child pornography images, according to the complaint.
Michael Freeman told an investigator that he was in a "bad place," according to the complaint. He said he was the first to take the images and that "somehow" his wife became involved.
Michelle Freeman refused to speak with investigators about the images, the complaint says.
Homeland Security Investigations first discovered the images in June 2011 during a separate child pornography search. When the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children could not identify them, ICE issued the public plea.
"The general public and the media was instrumental in bringing these people to justice," ICE spokesman Ross Feinstein told CNN.