A Dalton man has pleaded guilty in federal court in Springfield to child sexual exploitation offenses.

This past Friday, July 9, James LaFrance, 65, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual exploitation of children. U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni scheduled sentencing for Nov. 19, 2021.

LaFrance admitted that on two separate occasions in 2018 and 2019, he encouraged a 16-year-old girl from Massachusetts, whom he had befriended on the internet, to engage in sexually explicit conduct during video chat sessions. LaFrance recorded the girl’s actions on his computer and provided specific directions as to what she was to do on camera. LaFrance engaged in virtually identical behavior toward a 16-year-old girl from Pennsylvania on two occasions in July 2019.

The charges of sexual exploitation of children each provide for a mandatory minimum of 15 years and up to 30 years in prison, at least five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and forfeiture. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; William S. Walker, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Dalton Police Chief Deanna Strout; Marblehead Police Chief Dennis King; and Newbury Police Chief John R. Lucey, Jr. made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex J. Grant of Mendell’s Springfield Branch Office is prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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