Geneseo Man Sentenced to 32 Years in Federal Prison for Sexual Exploitation of a Child

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Geneseo man was sentenced to 384 months in prison for sexual exploitation of a child after pleading guilty on January 6, 2022, to five counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Child.  Tristan Scott Blank, 35, of Geneseo will spend 32 years in prison followed by a life term of supervised release.  As part of the plea deal, Blank was held accountable for the exploitation of other victims not listed in the original indictment.  Blank used social media and the internet to pose as a teen girl to entice children to send him explicit material.  Blank was originally charged with multiple counts relating to solicitation of minors and child pornography in late 2018 in Henry County.  The charges were dismissed by the state after the indictment from the Federal Court was returned in 2019.   The statutory penalties for Sexual Exploitation of a Child are fifteen to thirty years imprisonment and a term of supervised release from 5 years to life.

U.S. District Judge Sara Darrow said the seriousness of the offense was difficult to fathom because Blank had sexually assaulted two children and exploited 21 others, resulting in 23 children permanently altered by his conduct. Judge Darrow found that many of the victims were children Blank knew or specifically targeted for exploitation.

“Blank manipulated and blackmailed children into producing sexual images for his own sexual gratification.” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah E. Seberger. “His significant term of imprisonment and lifetime supervision will provide some measure of justice to the victims and their families. These brave, resilient children now have justice and can continue to move forward with their lives.

”The U.S. Secret Service remains committed to investigating and arresting individuals who sexually exploit children and transmit child sexual abuse material.” said Resident Agent in Charge Stephen Webster. “We are proud of our partnerships with the federal, state, and local agencies who work collectively to investigate and prosecute crimes against minors. These predators cause significant and long-lasting damage, and we are holding them accountable.  “This case shows the importance of parents engaging their children in discussions about online safety, including talking about sextortion.” said U.S. Attorney Gregory Harris. “My office is committed to protecting the most vulnerable members of our society, our children, and to bringing sexual predators to justice.”

The United States Secret Service, Illinois State Police, Geneseo Police Department investigated the case. Braveheart Child Advocacy Center, Colona Police Department, and the Henry County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the investigation. Greater Manchester Police, Serious Crime Division also assisted with investigation in the United Kingdom. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah E. Seberger represented the government at the sentencing hearing.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) encourages children to discuss online safety with their parents and to ask for help from adults or professionals if they have experienced threats online. For more information contact [email protected].

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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