On Wednesday, March 15, 2023, Zachary Bosh, a former resident of Uniontown, Pennsylvania was sentenced to 17.5 years of incarceration and lifetime supervision upon release after a conviction for production of visual depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Chief United States District Judge Mark R. Hornak imposed this sentence following Bosh’s earlier guilty plea on July 12, 2022. Assistant United States Attorney Rebecca L. Silinski prosecuted this case.
The court was advised that on April 12, 2019, an undercover officer entered a public online group chat entitled “#parentstoys” on the Internet app Kik. During this conversation, the user “ascott5055” initiated a private chat with the undercover officer and proceeded to send approximately seven videos and/or images of a minor. One of these videos depicted the sexual exploitation of a child. The user, later identified as Bosh, purported to the undercover officer that the media he sent over the group chat was “live.” Court documents also stated that Bosh indicated he had previously sexually exploited the minor and wanted the undercover officer to engage in sexually exploiting the child with him.
Given that the sexual exploitation of a minor was happening in real time, law enforcement was able to obtain emergency disclosures from Kik and the Internet service provider. Because of the emergency disclosures, law enforcement was able to identify the residence where the video of the exploitation took place. When on site, prosecutors said that law enforcement officers were able to identify bedsheets matching those in the video that was sent to the undercover officer.
Bosh’s defense attorney asserted that he already served two years on a related state court case for the sexual exploitation, therefore he should serve no more than 15 years in federal prison for the video. Government officials vehemently opposed Bosh’s attorneys rationale, noting the abhorrent nature of his crimes. Ultimately, during sentencing, Judge Hornak said he would not “reduce [the defendant’s] conduct to a descriptive term” – like terrible or egregious – noting that it would not be “sufficient” and risked “minimizing” Bosh’s conduct. Ultimately, Judge Hornak sentenced Bosh to 17.5 years in prison.
According to the Department of Justice, the court also found that the record strongly suggested that Bosh engaged in previous exploitative conduct. Likewise, his statements to the officer suggested his “desires” to engage in more sexually exploitative conduct in the future. The court noted its rationale behind lifetime supervision, stating that this would deter Bosh and others from committing similar crimes. As aptly stated by Acting United States Attorney Troy Rivetti, “this sentence sends a clear message that predatory crimes, such as child exploitation offenses, will continue to be vigorously prosecuted by this office.”
Bosh’s case was brought in conjunction with Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat child exploitation and abuse. Project Safe Childhood was initiated in May of 2006 by the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice identifies the five essential components of Project Safe Childhood as building partnerships; coordinating law enforcement; training Project Safe Childhood partners; public awareness; and accountability. Through the initiative, the Department of Justice aims to coordinate and cooperate with federal, tribal, state, local, and international organizations to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.
The CSE Institute commends the work of the FBI, the FBI Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, and the United States District Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania for their diligent work on this case and prosecuting these horrific crimes against children. We applaud all the organizations involved, not only for their dedication to ensuring the safety of children, but also for recognizing those who attempt to purchase sex are the root cause of sexual exploitation.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or of Villanova University.