Convictions Continue for International Child Porn Ring

Kat Khan
SAN DIEGO — A former San Diego child counselor involved in an international child pornography ring was convicted Wednesday of child molestation and pornography, with special allegations that include bondage and sodomy.

A San Diego Superior Court jury deliberated for two days before convicting Paul Whitmore, 47, of 51 felony counts including committing lewd acts upon a child, aggravated sexual assault of a child and posing a minor for pictures and videos involving sexual conduct, which he distributed on the Internet.

Whitmore is currently awaiting his sentencing hearing scheduled for Feb. 3 and could be sent to prison for life. The former child counselor faces two years to 25 years in prison per conviction.

The case was originally brought to the attention of investigators when a group of parents were charged with sexually molesting and photographing their own children and swapping the pictures over the Internet in 2002. Since that time, “Operation Hamlet” has led to the arrest of 24 men in the U.S. and 10 convictions overseas. About six people with outstanding warrants in the case are believed to be living outside the U.S.

Prosecutors said Whitmore was one of the most active members of the ring. Investigators found child pornography he made on computers in five states, as well as in Denmark, Switzerland, Germany and Italy.

Investigators found 750,000 child pornography images during their initial bust of the pornography ring in the U.S. and Europe. More than 100 victims were identified including 37 U.S. children ranging in age from 2 years to 14 years, authorities said.

Previously, Whitmore was convicted in April 2004 on federal charges of conspiracy to sexually exploit children and sexually exploiting children. He faces a sentence between 17 years and 40 years in prison in that case.

Additionally, Brooke Lockwood Rowland, 44, a former advertising salesman from Poway who was also involved with the ring, pleaded guilty Oct. 7 to committing a lewd act upon a child and faces 15 years to life in prison.

Prosecutors and Whitmore's lawyer, Gary Roberts, have been under a judge-imposed gag order since October.