Vacationer returning from cruise is caught with thousands of child pornography images, feds say

A vacationer returning from a Bahamas cruise was met by a federal agent in Florida who searched his iPhone and found child pornography images, prosecutors said.

The officer’s search for the Virginia man’s phone after the commercial vessel docked in Port Canaveral on September 9, 2021 was part of a border search – leading investigators to find more than 4,500 images and videos of child sexual abuse and bestiality, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Intermediate District of Florida.

Now a judge has sentenced Christopher Michael Ratten, 32, of Stafford to seven years in federal prison, the office said in a Jan. 12 news release. It comes after officials said it pleaded guilty to transport child sexual abuse pictures in October.

Several of the images found on her phone involved the abuse of infants or toddlers, prosecutors say.

Ratten “nurtured his perversion through a vast and rapidly growing collection of explicit images and videos of sexually abused children and animals,” said David J. Pezzutti, assistant special agent in charge of investigations into Homeland Security in Orlando, David J. Pezzutti, in a statement.

Ratten’s attorney, Eric Barker, told McClatchy News in a statement Jan. 12 that they were pleased the judge handed down a sentence below the recommended guidelines in the case.

Ratten’s sentencing guidelines had previously been set at between 10 and 12.5 years in prison, according to court documents.

Barker said his client “has no criminal history, extremely strong family support and is not at increased risk of harm or danger to the community.”

Asking the government for a lesser sentence, Barker acknowledged there is evidence his client asked an unspecified person for “black lesbian child pornography” and received videos of infants and toddlers instead. , according to a sentencing memo.

He also maintained that a psychosexual evaluation of Ratten revealed that he “shows no interest in men of any age or girls under the age of 14,” the memo reads in part.

“The only sexual interest shown was in postpubescent teenage girls and adult women,” the sentencing note also said.

Ultimately, a doctor diagnosed him with child molestation disorder based on the photos discovered on his phone, according to the sentencing note.

While Ratten’s family members wrote letters to the judge defending his character, with his uncle calling his actions a “mistake,” according to the sentencing memorandum, Officer Pezzutti described him as a predator.

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