Child porn sharing nets man 5-year sentence

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) A Fort Wayne man who sent child pornography to an undercover officer during a three-month-long investigation was sentenced Tuesday in Allen Superior Court.

Mug shot of Erik Leigh Hayden provided by Indiana State Police
Mug shot of Erik Leigh Hayden provided by Indiana State Police

Erik Leigh Hayden, 20, was sentenced to five years for two counts of child exploitation, two in prison and three on adult probation. As part of his plea deal with prosecutors, six additional charges of child exploitation were dismissed.

Hayden was arrested in April, the end game of a three-month-long undercover investigation by the Indiana State Police that found Hayden was involved in peer-to-peer file sharing over the Internet. Officers with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force executed a search warrant at Hayden’s home and took him into custody.

In court then, an officer with that task force, Gretchen Smith, testified that an undercover officer received child porn from Hayden’s IP address. Hayden was involved in what police called the “LS Series,” which predators use to follow their victims as they age – so the children are victimized multiple times, the court learned.

Hayden’s victims ranged in age from 8-13, police said.

“I apologize to anyone I hurt especially my grandparents,” Hayden told the court Tuesday. “I know I have a problem. Unfortunately foolish pride stopped me from getting help. Going forward, I will seek out help so nothing like this never happens again.”

Hayden had no prior criminal record.

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